Not every journey is linear. Elizabeth Mkroyan always knew she wanted to work in healthcare. From a young age, she envisioned herself as a doctor. Through years of dedicated studying, she continued to move towards this goal. After gaining her bachelor’s degree, Mkroyan took a gap year to study for the MCAT. However, never one to sit still, she chose to further her education during that gap year.
“I found West Coast University’s Master of Public Health program and loved everything about it,” Mkroyan said. “There I was, starting a master’s program while studying for the MCAT.”
She graduated summa cum laude from WCU’s Master of Public Health program in 2019. Mkroyan found she loved her studies, her professors and the school. After graduating, she was accepted into medical school. Her dreams and hard work had all come to fruition. Mkroyan placed her deposit and began medical school orientation. Yet, something didn’t feel right.
“I realized I love healthcare but it took me a while to see I don’t want to be a doctor. I wanted to be a nurse,” she shared. “I like the nursing scope of practice and flexibility more when compared to the physician.”
WCU’s MPH program exposed her to a different reality in the healthcare world. It was one where she felt she could really connect to her patients and provide closer patient care. She declined her medical school offer and quickly got on board with the nursing program at WCU.
“I reflected back on my volunteering and working in healthcare. (I saw) the lives of the doctors versus the lives of the nurses and nurse practitioners,” Mkroyan said. “That close nurse-patient relationship is something I really value and something I wanted.”
Mkroyan felt that she could make an even greater impact as a nurse. During her graduation from the MPH program, she watched the nurses graduate with distinctive honors from the BSN program. This was the path she felt called to pursue and she didn’t think twice about returning to WCU to make her dream a reality.
“(As an alumnus) familiar with the program, I knew I wasn’t going to search for another nursing program,” she said. “If I’m switching over, it’s going to be WCU.”
The decision to switch from medical school to nursing is not all too common. Mkroyan said she was initially met with confusion from her friends and family. They asked if she had cold feet or didn’t want to move away from home. Instead, she simply realized that medical school wasn't the right path for her.
“People are surprised in the beginning, and it’s an interesting story, so I don’t blame them,” she said. “After I tell them that my happiness is my main priority … they’re more inspired and moved.”
If Mkroyan could offer any words of wisdom to those who may be in a similar position it would be this: do what makes you happy.
“I took a step back and said, ‘What is going to make me happy?’” she said. “It’s not ultimately the title you’re going to receive. What are you going to do every morning? You’re going to wake up and go to work and you want to be happy and enjoy that process each day.”
Mkroyan said that her happiness means everything to her. It’s never too late to switch careers, she maintains, no matter how much you have invested. Although she poured time and money into her pursuit of medical school, she has no regrets about changing course.
Her experience with WCU played a substantial role in her happiness within the field. She believes her decision to finish one WCU program only to pursue another speaks volumes about the school. She is also proud of their alumni circle and feels it is something other schools may lack.
“I’m really happy that West Coast has (a good alumni circle),” she said. “It allows a lot of us to still keep in touch, share different things and learn from one another.”
Mkroyan has high goals for her career path. She said she desire to serve minority populations as well as those without access to healthcare. She also hopes to teach one day and take leadership roles in health care organizations until then.
The emphasis on lifelong learning is something else that Mkroyan truly appreciates in WCU. She plans to further her education with WCU by pursuing her doctorate in nursing practice.
“I want to continue my education and happily it would be with West Coast again,” she said. “I wouldn’t look for different programs. I’m so happy with it.”