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UVM Student Changes Course for a Career in Nursing

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“Though we can’t always see it at the time, if we look upon events with some perspective, we see things always happen for our best interests. We are always being guided in a way better than we know ourselves.”

– Swami Satchidananda

By Kim O’Leary

In September, I wrote about how I had left behind full-time work in corporate communications, started a position as a cardiology technician at UVM Medical Center, and was about to embark on my first semester as a pre-med student at UVM.

And what a semester it was! I dusted off my creaky old brain and reintroduced it to physics, biology, and chemistry. I worked part-time in cardiology and in marketing and communications at UVM Medical Center, and volunteered at the Vermont Child Health Improvement Program and Lund Family Center. I also squeezed in the parenting and wife-ing thing, too. It was an exhilarating, bewildering, exhausting, and ultimately rewarding experience.

Why I Want a Career in Nursing

In the midst of this schedule, I’ve found time to reflect on what being a physician would require of me. The uncertainty of whether I would get into medical school, whether that medical school would be in Vermont (where my family is happily settled), and how my family would weather a brutal eight or more years of schooling and residency…ultimately became too much uncertainty for me. However, I desperately wanted to practice medicine in my community, to be intellectually challenged, to teach new generations of students, to contribute to health care policy development. Turns out, there is another way!


After discussing with my advisor in the UVM Post-Baccalaureate Premedical Program, I have shifted to the post-baccalaureate nurse practitioner track. As a nurse practitioner, I will have the opportunity to provide holistic, evidence-based care to my patients, with an emphasis on wellness and prevention of disease. I can be a true partner in patient care, and contribute to the health of my community in a profound way. Working alongside many talented nurses over the past several months, I am constantly in awe of their depth and breadth of clinical knowledge, combined with their ability to connect with patients and set them at ease. Nurses are truly at the very center of patient care—and that’s where I want to be, too.

In roughly a year, I will have taken all the courses needed to fulfill my admission requirements, which will allow me to apply to UVM’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences and other nursing schools. If I am accepted into UVM’s rigorous Direct Entry Program in Nursing, I would engage in an intensive year of pre-RN licensure, followed by three years of Doctor of Nursing Practice studies, ideally in family medicine.

While I admittedly have had some mixed feelings about changing course, I realize what an incredible opportunity I have right in front of me, and just how versatile and vital the role nurse practitioners will continue to play in health care reform. So…on to the next bend in the road!

Learn more about the UVM Post-Baccalaureate Premedical Program.

-Kim O’Leary lives in Essex and is a student in the UVM Post-Baccalaureate Nurse Practitioner Program.