“I'm a first generation Dominican American. Both of my parents are from the Dominican Republic. Neither of my parents finished high school nor attended college. That makes me a first generation college student as well,” explains junior Kerlyn Rodriguez, who is from the Philadelphia region.
“I want become a nurse because I have a desire to help others and make a difference in the world…Many of my family members ask why I don't just become a doctor. This is when I love to say ‘A doctor treats the disease, a nurse treats the patient,’” she shares.
Kerlyn, who has had a roommate her entire life—she has a twin sister—was anxious to strike out on her own since her junior year of high school. She dreamed of studying abroad.
“I wanted to explore what it would be like to be on my own in a foreign country with a new culture and new things to learn,” Kerlyn recalls. She knew it may not be easy to accomplish but “kept an optimistic point of view.”
In her sophomore year, Kerlyn headed for the University of Manchester and its top-ranked nursing program. Villanova College of Nursing students may study abroad for that year and then seamlessly return into junior year remaining in synch with their class. Kerlyn chose this option over shorter summer global study opportunities. “I saw it as an adventure, and as an opportunity to gain more knowledge of England’s health care system. I anticipated a challenging course load at the University of Manchester and also an once-in-a-lifetime nursing clinical experience. That is what I received,” she says.
Kerlyn notes she completed about 550 hours of clinical experience with a registered nurse as her one-on-one mentor. From February until April I she was placed at a Peritoneal Dialysis clinic and over the summer was placed in a diabetes ward in a Central Manchester hospital.
“As a student, I like to challenge myself and believe studying abroad in Manchester was a great way to further test my academic abilities,” Kerlyn reflects. She explains that the Manchester program has students undertake a range of practice placements in both community and hospital settings. Fifty percent of the course was clinical practice experience where she was required to follow shift patterns in her clinical placement areas. For the first semester, she attended lectures to further her knowledge of the human body and mind. In the second semester, she attended clinical placement and also lectures three days out of the school week. Over the summer, Kerlyn had solely the clinical placement five days a week (8 hours a day) or three days a week (12.5 hours a day).
As she looks back on her time abroad, Kerlyn also thinks about the future. She aspires to launch her career in pediatrics at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). If that does not occur, she may consider moving to Miami where her eldest sister lives and is earning her master’s degree to become a dietitian. They would love to work in the same hospital.
For now, Kerlyn notes, “My journey was hard but overall fulfilling and I am glad to be back at Villanova University.”