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My career: cardiothoracic nursing at Georgetown

-Erin Ferraro, Southwick, Mass.

Erin shares her experience at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital which opened her eyes to critical care nursing.  


Erin Ferraro, a senior from Southwick, Mass., says her interest in nursing stems from her passion for holistic care.  To her, caring for a patient is not only about physical needs, but rather that the needs of a patient are equal parts physical, emotional, and spiritual.  She doesn’t want to treat her patients as a diagnosis.  Erin realizes it is important to understand the science and pathology behind a diagnosis, but believes it is just as important to treat the patient as a human being.  By forming a deeper connection with the patient and providing care to the individual as a “whole,” she will be able to care for them in every facet of their experience throughout the disease process.

In the summer of 2016, Erin completed an externship at the MedStar Georgetown University Hospital in Washington D.C. on the cardio-thoracic step-down unit.  Erin learned of the opportunity through seniors and attended a recruitment dinner at Georgetown in October 2015.  Through this networking event, Erin discovered that her values as a nurse perfectly aligned with Georgetown's motto of "Cura Personalis" which is "caring of the whole person".  Throughout the externship Erin’s role included taking vital signs, drawing blood, and assisting with activities of daily living.  When shadowing a staff nurse, she was assisting with medications administration, creating care plans, and participating in unit rounds.  The nurses on her floor were very supportive and would often pull Erin into a patient’s room so she could observe a bedside procedure or learn about a new disease. 

The majority of the patients Erin cared for were cardiac or thoracic patients who did not require an intensive level of care but were still acutely ill and required continuous monitoring.  Through this experience Erin discovered what intermediate care involved and how much she loved doing it.  “The acuity of the patients and the variety of diagnoses I saw on my unit is exactly what I am looking for in my first job as a nurse,” she explains.

Erin’s plans after graduation are slowly beginning to unfold as she begins her senior year. Right now, her interests lie in cardio-thoracic care and critical care.  After her experience in Georgetown she knows she can make it in a new city. erin notes, “I've always had a little bit of wanderlust, so it wouldn't surprise me at all if I end up in a new city or state. If there's one thing Villanova has taught me it's that there are so many opportunities to continue to grow as a nurse, especially beyond graduation.”

My Career Tip #1

“Don’t be afraid to push yourself out of your comfort zone and explore all your options and enjoy the process."  

My Career Tip #2

"Villanova nurses are strong competitors when applying for jobs, so students should always keep in mind that it's about you wanting that hospital or health system just as much as it's about them wanting you.”