The decision to attend Arizona State University was an easy one for Anna White. She grew up in the small community of Lake Tahoe, on the Nevada side; her high school graduating class including her totaled 27 people.
“I loved that it (ASU) was a big school, and coming from one of the tiniest schools on the planet I was excited to dive into such a deep pool of people,” said White.
She wanted the full college experience, football games, sororities and endless opportunities to get involved on campus. The financial aid incentives helped too, as did the fact that she received direct admission into the Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation’s nursing program.
For the last four years, White has taken advantage of all that ASU has to offer, joining a sorority and the Student Nurses Association, where she served as president for the last two years.
This May, she will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in nursing with plans to specialize in pediatric critical care. She hopes to get a position in an intensive care unit within a new graduate nurse residency program.
White says she knew from a young age she wanted to pursue health care as a profession.
“I always wanted to take care of people. I feel like nursing is the perfect combination of science, medicine and patient care,” she said.
Below she recounts the moment she recognized her passion for pediatrics and intensive care and shares her plans for after graduation.
Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?
Answer: A huge "aha" moment for me was when I was at St. Jude as a nurse extern last summer. I was working in their pediatric ICU, and I remember within the first two days of being there I knew intensive care was the perfect fit for me. I felt myself thrive in the fast pace, high-intensity setting, and I loved the patient population that I was caring for. I loved that every day was a new challenge and that I was in an environment where I was constantly learning new ways to provide safe, high-quality patient care.
Having the opportunity to work for an organization like St. Jude was the most rewarding experience that I've ever had, and I couldn't be more thankful. I learned so much from the nurses there about critical care, pediatrics and oncology and how to provide the best care for those patients. I feel like that experience not only helped me through my last year of nursing school but also just showed me this is exactly what I want to be doing and how I want to be doing it. They practice at the highest level of care, and that is ultimately my goal — I just want to be the best nurse that I can be.
The one patient that had the biggest impact on me was a kid who was on every medication you can think of and there was so much going on. They had been in bed for nearly two weeks straight, and it’s intense caring for a patient like that. I did get to see this patient get better, and I got to see them get out of bed and walk again. That was a major moment, and I was so grateful to have been a part of it.
Q: What are your plans after graduation?
A: My biggest goal is to move to Hawaii. I would love to work in an intensive care unit at the Queen's Medical Center and be part of their nurse residency program; however, the application doesn't open until June. If for some reason I don’t get accepted, then I will apply for a position as a new registered nurse at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital there.
In the meantime, I’m taking the summer off to travel throughout Europe and ideally would like to start work in September.
Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?
A: Surprisingly it’s not directly related to health care. I’m very passionate about ocean conservation and protecting marine wildlife, so with $40 million I would love to help protect and restore coral reefs. It indirectly relates to global health and wellness, something else I am very passionate about because so much of the world depends on the ocean for their food supply, and coral reef health is essential to maintaining that supply of fish.
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