A Call to Nursing: Senior Scholar Commits to Career of Care

Ashley Michel Notre Dame College student Ashley Michel ’16 said nursing is a calling.

“You feel deep in your heart that you are so empowered. You are ready to take care of all those in need,” she said.

And her call is not just to treat the sick but also to care for their relatives, who often spend days and nights in the hospital, too, to stay close to their loved ones.

“The patient is the most important, but you cannot forget about their family, ” Michel said.

 

A Call to Scholarship

A senior undergraduate in Notre Dame College’s Division of Nursing, Michel chronicled her philosophy of family-centered nursing care in an essay that, along with her academic record, earned her the Senior Scholarship Award from the Greater Cleveland Nurse’s Association.

"Nurses are uniquely able to request that other members of the healthcare team come forward and help provide the care the patient and family needs," she wrote in her submission.

A member of the College’s Honors Scholar Program, Michel also completed an evidence-based practice research project, "Exemplar in Teamwork and Collaboration: Appraisal Tips for Pre-nursing Students," this year. Her project was selected for poster presentation as part of the 2015 Quality and Safety for the Education of Nurses National Forum in San Diego.

The Olmsted Falls, Ohio, native was one of only four undergraduates in the country accepted to the conference.

Michel’s study designed and tested a teaching-learning experience for students searching for and critically appraising scholarly journals.

A Call to Experience

In her fourth-year of the nursing program at Notre Dame, Michel is working in her eighth clinical experience. She spends at least 10 to 12 hours per week on a patient floor for each specialty rotation.

"You really do have to have a passion for this," she said.

Michel has completed three clinical rotations at the Cleveland Clinic, one each in orthopedics, medical surgical and coronary ICU; two at MetroHealth Medical Center, one in general medical surgical and one in pediatrics; one at University Hospitals of Cleveland, in obstetrics; one at St. Vincent Charity Medical Center in mental health; and one at the Hospice of the Western Reserve in community and population nursing.

She has one more clinical to go: in gerontology. She’s not sure where just yet.

"All these different opportunities with healthcare institutions: It is amazing, that in this program, I have been able to see and experience so many," she said.

A Call to Practice

Next, Michel will commence her capstone practicum: 180 clinical hours one-onone with a preceptor. She has requested neonatal intensive care, labor and delivery or emergency room nursing. She is waiting to learn of her match.

Her goal is to become a nurse in a neonatal intensive care unit and then go back to school to become a neonatal nurse practitioner.

"This will allow me to advance the practice of nursing because as I expand my scope of practice, I will be able to make more of a difference in the lives of patients," Michel said.

Nurse practitioners tend to focus on prevention, wellness and education—and the family—as well as treatment of the patient.

"Being able to work directly with families to develop a plan of care then put it into action is the pinnacle of nursing practice for me," she said.

A Call to Education

Michel said she has always known since she was young, while serving as caretaker for those in her family and neighborhood not that much younger, that she would commit to nursing.

But not all who hear the call can complete. Michel said a person intuitively knows whether they will be a nurse, the minute they first walk out on a patient floor if not sooner. She has seen it in her classmates.

She started Notre Dame with many students who were interested in the profession. Only 32 were accepted to continue to work toward a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree following pre-nursing licensure courses.

"Nursing takes more energy, passion and commitment than people outside the program will ever know," she wrote in her essay. "I have sacrificed many things for this profession already—sleep, social life— but I gladly make each one because I have so much of my own passion for taking care of other people."

A Call to Community

Michel also instinctively knew Notre Dame was the college for her. She said she felt the "fit" as soon as she visited campus.

In addition to her nursing courses and clinicals, Michel has served as a lead student ambassador for the Office of Admissions and is secretary of the Student Nurses’ Association.

Michel has to handle the overload of Honors Scholar study, too, but said her interest in and ability to balance the demands of her college—as well as career—choice also comes from within.

"I don’t have to do any of this, but I want to do it all," she said. "It is all a part of who I am."

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