Melissa Coombs is a second-year Honors student and is part of the UWF Nursing Program. She is taking part in a newly established spring cohort of Nursing students. Sixty students were invited to join this new spring semester of nursing school and will graduate a semester earlier in this accelerated program. I asked her a few questions about the program and how she is balancing it with Honors academia.
Were you excited when you learned the news that you were invited to be a part of the new, early acceptance Nursing Program?
Of course I was. That was the program I wanted to do. Basically the entirety of my freshman year I was freaking out like, “I’ve got to apply! They only accept 60 people a year!”
And you were a part of that 60?
When I first came to the University, they only accepted 50 people in the fall. The year I was gonna apply, they increased to 60 people a year, but then they opened an entirely new cohort [in the spring], which makes it 120.
What is your favorite thing about the Nursing Program so far?
Every step of the way reminds [you] what you’re in this for. You’re not in this to be the richest person in America, you’re not in this to get all A’s, you’re not in this to graduate with the perfect record, you are in this to save human lives. You are in this because it is an honor to be a nurse, and you are in this because you have that drive to help humanity.
What made you want to become a nurse?
A lot of people in my family are in the medical field. My mom is a doctor, my dad was a doctor, my cousin is a surgeon, and my uncle is in the health care administration for Jamaica. I grew up in this medical culture almost. Then as I grew up, [I found that] I’m a very sensitive person to suffering. I’m very empathetic toward people, I don’t like seeing people hurt. So nursing is a very natural direction for me because, as a nurse, you are there to help people through those [difficult] times. That’s really what drew me to [nursing].
How are you balancing Honors academia with the Nursing Program?
Part of a nurse’s job is community health, and that is what my thesis is going to very much tie into. [My research] on male subjects of abuse is a growing health issue. My project will be framing that for the attention of the public. As for the rest of the Honors’ requirements, Honors is allowing me to travel in my spare time. I plan on going to Greece, a very different place, where I can expose myself to [a] new culture and gain a new view of diversity. I’m not saying it is easy [balancing Honors and the Nursing Program]. It is doable if you have the drive to do it, but you do have to commit to it.
How do you think being invited into this new program will benefit you as an Honors mentor?
As a mentor, it lets me see where some of my students are going, as a majority of my mentees are medically-oriented. So the fact that I was invited early to this program lets me guide them in the direction that they will soon be taking.
What advice do you have for those applying to UWF’s Nursing Program?
Expose yourself to the healthcare system early. Go out and volunteer in a hospital or a medical system of some fashion, so you can get a feel for the day-to-day life. I would also recommend focusing on organizational and time management fields, but that goes for any other major as well, I guess.
“Nursing programs everywhere are notorious for being one of the most challenging things you could ever do. I will admit, I’m feeling it, I’m feeling that strain. But at the end of the day you remember that a nurse holds a human life in their hands, and I want to be the best nurse I could be. I could hold someone’s life that I care about in my hand one day. There is someone out there right now, and they might not know it yet, but they will need my help. It is my responsibility now to be the best nursing student I can be.”
Interview conducted by: Adam Morris, first-year student, public relations major