Alumni Couple Supported One Another During West Coast Experience

Andrew V. and Chelsea C. were already engaged by the time they started their clinical care rotation in December 2020, but it was then, during one of their toughest moments, that their relationship became the strongest.

“We were pretty much-wounded soldiers stumbling through the end of a battlefield,” Andrew said. “It felt like the world was burning around us but being able to be there for each other, having that strong support system and believing each other when we said, ‘You can do this,’ made us keep going.”

At the peak of the global pandemic and final exam season, Andrew and Chelsea experienced family losses within weeks of one another. Chelsea remembered grabbing sushi together and talking about the struggles they faced.

“It was one of those big signifying events,” Andrew said. “We can do this together, whether it’s school, our careers or family. I think in all the turmoil and terribleness it was an indicator that we got this, and we did.”

The couple started dating two years before starting nursing school at West Coast University. Before they knew it, they were getting engaged in the middle of their public health rotation.

“In the beginning, I remember her telling me that a lot of couples don’t make it through nursing school,” Andrew said. “You’re a team and sometimes you’re a cheerleader, sometimes you’re in charge. It was a lot of being a cheerleader for each other.”

For Chelsea, she said she leaned on Andrew as a source of strength.

“As far as supporting each other, Andrew is the calm one,” Chelsea said. “He is very patient and he’s very good at explaining things.”  

Chelsea had been working as a Certified Nursing Assistant since she was 19 years old. It was during their fundamentals rotation that she got to use her experience to help Andrew through his first time giving a bed bath.

“Andrew was worried to touch the patient and I thought it was cute to teach him something I know how to do and am good at it.”

Yet they also realized early on that they each had different study habits and learned material differently. Like any team, Andrew said they each had unique roles to play.

“We would review and go over things together but, end of the day, you can’t take the test or do the practicals for each other,” Andrew said. “Just knowing that our studying habits were different helped us early on because we wouldn’t have been able to pass if we tried doing everything together.”

After graduating, the couple got their first jobs together at a COVID-19 testing facility. Now they each work in the fields that best suit their skills and interests. Andrew, who is a nurse in an intensive care unit in Orange County, mentioned how his West Coast career advisor helped him both find the role and prepare for the interview.

“I wanted to educate, help and fix problems for people, and nursing has all those elements,” he said. “Sometimes patients will be in the ICU for a while, so you get to learn about the patient and know what’s going on versus an ER where you are seeing them quickly and sending them out to the floor.”

Chelsea said she took advantage of West Coast Career Services upon graduation. She now pre-ops patients and assists during endoscopies and colonoscopies in a gastroenterology lab in Anaheim.

“Career services really helped me prepare for my job interviews and helped with my resume,” she said. “All my job offers I received, as soon as they saw I went to West Coast their initial impression was, ‘We want you because West Coast produces really great nurses.”

Looking back on their program, both Andrew and Chelsea said what they most valued is the West Coast community.

“You meet so many people and you’re all going through the same thing,” Andrew said. “During my job orientation, another girl who was training was a West Coast grad who graduated right before us. Since we both went to West Coast, I had someone who knew what I was going through. It’s the community.”

Chelsea echoed the sentiment saying that she also takes special notice of other West Coast graduates.

“I am proud that we went to West Coast, but I think what is even better is you have that sense of community.”

She described being a new grad and finding other West Coast nurses readily take her under their wing and help her succeed.

“That’s what we do at West Coast,” she said. “They want to see you succeed… it’s one of the best things about going to West Coast.”

As the couple plans their wedding and runs their Instagram account, @thatnursecouple, they said their goal is to continue gaining experience and pursue different routes in the nursing profession.

“We want to travel nurse and try out some other places in the country,” Andrew said. “Having different jobs in nursing we get to show how diverse it really is. She’s in an operating room and I am in a more traditional bedside setting.”

Chelsea emphasized the many possibilities a nursing career offers.

“You don’t have to do the traditional route,” she said. “That’s the beauty of nursing and another reason both Andrew and I really like this field. We know there are so many different options with this career.”

WCU cannot guarantee employment. Programs vary by campus. The views and opinions expressed are those of the individuals and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs or position of the school or of any instructor or student.