West Coast University-Orange County student John Watson recently shared his experiences with the Transition Into Practice Program as his last clinical rotation at WCU came to a close.
As one of 10 students completing the TIPP at WCU-Orange County this term, Watson said he has grown not only as a nurse but as a person during his time in the program.
"Being in TIPP has helped me transition from a student to a nurse," he said. "The school showed the hospital that I was a qualified nurse. This opportunity gave me a competitive advantage in a competitive field, so I feel more visible to recruiters and more confident in my job applications."
"This whole experience has been so humbling and it wouldn't have been possible without the Career Services team's vision," Watson added.
Can you tell us about the program you were in?
I was in the Transition Into Practice Program. This opportunity was developed by the Career Services department at WCU to introduce the university’s hospital partners to potential candidates for employment after graduation. I was selected as a student to precept at CHOC in the Mental Health Inpatient Center, where I hope to work as a registered nurse in the future.
How was life at CHOC?
Life at CHOC was busy. No two days were the same. Every shift would bring on new challenges. I was really surprised because I work in mental health already, and I saw things that I don’t see when I am on the clock as an LVN. I really got to learn about the skills that registered nurses utilize when assessing and caring for their patients.
Tell us a little about your background and what you were doing before enrolling at WCU
Before coming to WCU, I worked in customer service while completing my bachelor’s degree, and I continued in the same field after graduation. While there were aspects of the work I enjoyed, I knew I wanted a different career path. I saw how my wife loved her work, even when it overwhelmed her, and I wanted the same thing for myself. I spoke with a career counselor at a community college who encouraged me to look into healthcare after seeing my interest and aptitude for caring for others and helping to meet their needs.
Why did you choose the BSN program and to attend WCU-OC?
After I decided to change my career path to the medical field, I tried going to several community colleges to complete prerequisites for nursing programs. I also became a licensed vocational nurse (LVN) in order to gain experience while I was in school. My previous degree was in the humanities, and I initially struggled to change my study methods to fit science-based material and detail-oriented assessments. I chose to go to WCU because they valued my background instead of making me feel mediocre.
Do you feel like the BSN/TIPP program prepared you for what you dealt with at CHOC?
I feel like WCU and TIPP specifically helped me deal with my potential future as an RN. My TIPP preceptor always urged me to always think critically and not think merely about task completion.
What’s the hardest part about being a nurse?
The hardest part of nursing so far has been learning from mistakes rather than being defeated by them. Because this work focuses on others, I am keenly aware of the impact of making mistakes on my patients. I have to remember that I am still learning, and I have a team of coworkers to help as I consistently try to the best of my ability.
Did you ever feel like quitting while at WCU? If so, what kept you going?
There were several times that I felt like quitting. My wife keeps me going. She has always seen potential in me even when I am full of doubt. I think that I have spun out of control at least once a term at WCU. I have so many talented peers, and I wondered how I compared to them. My wife has sat with me every time and helped me see that we are not competing. We are all hoping to learn how to collaborate and make a difference in someone’s life. Then she makes me go to sleep and prepare for the next challenge.
What advice do you have for new or potential healthcare students?
I recommend working in the field or volunteering before making a commitment to a program like WCU. They should develop a solid support system to help them manage the stress and volume of work required in this degree program. They should get to know people at school and learn to network. Also, I think one of the most important departments to get acquainted with is Career Services. The goal when graduating from WCU is to create a positive career trajectory, and the specialists at Career Services can help them do that.
Do you have any long-term career goals either at CHOC or elsewhere?
My biggest long-term goal since starting WCU is to become an RN and work at CHOC. I currently work in mental health (which is where I precepted), and I love it. Hopefully, after working on the unit, I can become a certified psychiatric nurse and collaborate with my peers at CHOC to continue its mission of “nurturing, advancing and protecting the health and well-being of children.” There is an increasing need for proper care and support for mental health, especially for young people so they can establish habits and treatment plans to help them become successful adults. I hope to be a part of that process.
Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give yourself on that first day in class at WCU-OC?
I would tell myself that it is important to be your own advocate. This is your education; do not be afraid to seek clarification and opportunities to learn. The information that you learn in school is the foundation that your career lays on, so it is important to make sure that your understanding is strong, not only for yourself but for your future patients.
What do you want people to know about WCU and its BSN program?
The faculty and staff at WCU work incredibly hard to make sure that students learn how to think critically and provide safe and superior patient care. They also work hard to maintain an influential reputation in the community so that when students graduate, they are sought out among their competition. The nursing program at WCU is rigorous, and there are high expectations. However, there are resources for students to be successful.