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Life as nursing student in Army ROTC

Junior nursing student Madeline Alcorn, a native of Rockville, Md., took time out during the fall semester for some interview questions about her experiences as a nursing student, cadet in Army ROTC*, and her career.

AROTC student during exercises on target range

Villanova Nursing: Why did you choose Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (AROTC)? 

Madeline Alcorn: I joined the Army because I have a calling to help others and serve our nation, the same reasons why I chose to be a nurse. Ever since I was a child, I knew that I wanted to be in the Army and AROTC offers me a great opportunity to go to obtain my degree and fulfill my dream. I did not want to have a normal 9 to 5 job and the Army provides me with a fantastic opportunity to travel the world and interact with so many people.

VN: What have you done this far in terms of experiences with AROTC? 

MA: I have been so fortunate to participate in many experiences AROTC offers. Last year, I was a member of the Ranger Challenge team which is a selective team of cadets from across universities in the region that compete against other colleges in both physical and mental tests. Ranger Challenge was a huge commitment that involved lots of difficult physical training. I also was named the Color Guard Captain for Villanova allowing me to be an integral part of Villanova athletic games. In addition, this summer I was selected to travel with the Army to Lima, Peru to learn from their military academy for a month. This trip was an experience that I will never forget. I also have the challenge of being a cadet in college which includes attending demanding physical training three times a week before classes, going on field training experiences on my weekends, minoring in military science, leading freshmen and sophomore cadets, and even rucking a marathon once.

clinical group

VN: What have you done as a nursing student and how did that enhance your education?

MA: As a nursing student, I was able to travel to Japan last summer through the Connelly- Delouvrier International Scholarship program and the College of Nursing. This was one of the best experiences of my life as I studied Japan’s health care system while getting to experience their culture and cuisine. This trip broadened my view of how important nursing is on a global scale. I also had the opportunity to work and learn at a hospital in an underserved area of Philadelphia during my medical-surgical rotation. I gained valuable experience interacting with patients from that community and a better understanding of their challenges.

AROTC students
Madeline Alcorn (far left) with fellow AROTC cadets during Ranger Challenge last year.

VN: What’s next for you in AROTC?

MA: This summer, I will be going to Advanced Camp in Fort Knox, Ky. for thirty-seven days of military training. I will be graded on my leadership abilities and tactical infantry skills in tests such as land navigation, basic rifle marksmanship, physical fitness, counter IED-training, and much more. I will also be tested on my ability to complete military missions, such as ambush or a defense tactics, all while living outside with only the gear I can fit in my ruck. After enduring this training, I will be sent to a military hospital somewhere in the United States to have my nursing externship through the Army. I will work under a nursing preceptor and have autonomy in the hospital. I will experience things that civilian externs and nursing students do not get to do alone such as administering medications and inserting an IV catheter.

VN: How has AROTC enhanced your education or development as a nurse and leader?  What do you hope to do with your career?

MA: I hope to take my valued education from the M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing to become an Army Nurse Corps officer and serve active duty. This means that I could be stationed at an Army hospital in the United States or be deployed abroad. AROTC has taught me leadership skills, time-management skills, and has given me the confidence to take on many challenges.

VN: Anything else you want to share that might be good for someone to know if they’re thinking about AROTC?

MA: I would encourage nursing students to join AROTC if they are interested in challenging themselves and having a very interesting and fulfilling career. I have an amazing group of dedicated and motivated friends and get to participate in unique events that are not open to many others.

*While military science courses are held on Villanova’s campus, the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program is hosting locally by Widener University. AROTC, as noted on that website, “provides an opportunity for college nursing students to receive practical, hands-on leadership experience. The courses provide a chance for students to develop management, communication, and decision-making skills in a nonthreatening environment. Physical training and confidence-building activities (such as rappelling and obstacle courses) also provide a chance for students to be physically and mentally challenged.”