The exciting educational journey of UF nursing students

Published: April 20 2009

Category:In Focus, InsideUF

University of Florida undergraduate nursing students only have to wait 10 more days to receive their hard-earned degrees during the College of Nursing commencement ceremony at 11 a.m. on May 1 at the Phillips Center.

For many of these soon-to-be graduates, the undergraduate experience included the usual experiences of college life, as well as hectic schedules and life-changing experiences.

“The nursing program at the University of Florida is very intense,” said Karen Miles, clinical associate professor and associate dean for academic and student affairs at the UF College of Nursing.

Unlike most undergraduate students who spend the first semester of their program in traditional classroom settings, BSN (bachelor of science in nursing) students begin their education with not only a regular course load of classes, but also clinical labs to develop basic skills, such as measuring blood pressure and body temperature.

Additionally, students complete a clinical nursing practicum during their final semester by working alongside a practicing nurse.

“The student works with the nurse during their regular shift, which may be eight or 12 hours,” Miles said.

Holly Williamsen, a fourth-year nursing student, works from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., three to four days per week.

“This is my first time working a 12-hour shift,” she said. “I’ve never pushed myself to work this long.”

Williamsen said she believes it is necessary for students to experience life and death while learning about nursing.

“As nurses, we are going to see a lot of life and death,” she said. “I feel like I’m ready, and I’m really excited to get started.”

Her fondest memory occurred last semester when she saw a baby delivered at North Florida Regional Medical Center, Williamsen said.

“I just hope for more special moments like that,” she said.

As a student at a college ranked in the top 10 percent of nursing schools in the U.S., Williamsen should have no trouble getting a job. The program is one of the state’s largest providers of new baccalaureate-prepared nurses, and its graduates regularly achieve excellent pass rates on the NCLEX-RN licensing exam.

Although both her practicum and undergraduate experience end May 1, this Gator nurse is able to look forward to building many special moments during her nursing career. Just like 195 fellow UF nursing BSN graduates, she’s just begun.


Bridget Brennan

Category:In Focus, InsideUF