Interview with an Accelerated Nursing Student

I’m excited to again step back from sharing my views and experiences in this blog and let somebody else do the talking. This is my second entry in a series of interviews that I’m conducting with others pursuing health careers. I think that we (as ambitious Future Health Professionals) often get so entrenched in our chosen programs of study that we fail to understand the journeys of others. I hope that this series will allow you to discover not only new health professions (and the various paths that lead to them) but also the motivations of those students who pursue those careers. I’ve already learned a lot.

Katie Simpson is an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing student at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. She is an alumna of Oklahoma State University and is originally from Edmond, Oklahoma. I first met Katie in high school and now we’re again on the same campus. I sat down with Katie over lunch and asked her a few questions that I had about her program. My questions are in bold.

Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed today Katie. When I interviewed people for HOSA officer positions I always liked to start with the simplest but most important and revealing of questions. I’ve found that it’s been a hard habit to break, so I’ll give you that question now. What’s your story?

Thanks for having me David. In my junior year of high school, I took human anatomy on a whim, and ever since then I’ve known I want to go into health care. My initial plan was to attend a physical therapy program, but after some shadowing I revised my goal to attending a physician associate program – I immediately knew physical therapy wasn’t for me. I applied to several PA schools as well as the ABSN program at OUHSC. I interviewed at a few PA programs but unfortunately was not accepted. I was, however, accepted into the ABSN program. I viewed this as a sign. Now that I look back on it, I think it was a blessing in disguise that I did not get into PA school. I have absolutely loved everything about nursing. I get to spend a lot of time getting to know my patients and I love that. It also works out that I will eventually get to spend a majority of my time in the operating room – my second home! I enjoy being with patients through their surgeries and helping to reduce some of their anxiety.

Today you’re in scrubs, but yesterday you were dressed casually. I get the sense that there’s no such thing as a typical day for you, so I’ll ask you a more focused question. What have you been working on this week?

This week I have been doing a lot of studying. I have an exam every single Monday – so this is typically what my weekends look like! I started my psychiatric clinicals two weeks ago, so I had that on Tuesday. I like to try and get my studying done before the weekend, especially on weekends where there is an Oklahoma State football game, which there is this coming weekend. Go Pokes! I try to study enough during the week that I can enjoy my Saturday and then get back to work on Sunday.

Can you tell me a little bit about the program you’re in and who it’s designed for?

Sure. As mentioned above, I am in the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program at OUHSC. This program is for students who already have a bachelor’s degree in another subject; for example, I have a BS in Nutrition from Oklahoma State. This program is 14 months as opposed to the traditional 24 month program. We don’t really get any breaks, but the hectic schedule is totally worth it!

What qualities do you think are important for nurses to have?

Definitely empathy – I think it is important for a nurse to understand what his/her patients are feeling, but to also keep their personal opinions separate. As a provider of any type you cannot let your personal opinions change how you care for somebody. Communication is also a foundational quality that is important for nurses to have; they need to be able to communicate professionally to colleagues while also communicating to patients in a way that they will understand. In a way it’s like speaking two separate languages!

So right now you’re interested in working in the operating room when you graduate. How much flexibility will you have over time to change the environment in which you work?

That’s one reason I love nursing – the flexibility is amazing. I love the OR and I know that is where I will start, but if I ever get tired of that then I can go somewhere else. There are so many opportunities for nurses in incredibly diverse settings.

What do you wish you had known about nursing school when you first started?

I wish I would have known that I would be able to maintain my social life. It’s actually important for your academic success overall to not overload yourself by studying 24/7. I have realized that the weeks where I enjoy my time off while also remembering to study efficiently are the weeks that I perform the best.


Will this be the last degree for you, or are you considering further programs down the road?

I’m definitely considering going further in nursing. I would like to get my first assist license for surgery. If I ever get tired of surgery then I will probably go back to school and get my nurse practitioner degree so that I can practice with a greater deal of autonomy. There are so many roads to take after this first step that I’m sure I will change my mind at least once!


I’d like to thank Katie again for having lunch and talking to me about her program and goals. If you’re interested in nursing school or especially an ABSN program and would like more information, I encourage you to send me an email at [email protected]. I’ll pass your questions along to Katie!


Source: HOSA Blog

Thoughts on Beginning Medical School

The original intent of this blog was for me to share my experiences as I made my way through the medical school application process and then through medical school itself. While I’m certainly glad that the application process is over, I hope that my thoughts have helped those of you applying to or considering applying to professional health programs. With that said, it’s now time to shift toward that second subject – in August I donned a white coat and began my time as a medical student at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine in Oklahoma City.

I’ve been in school for a couple of months, but we’ve already completed one course (covering some basic science that we’ll need to know for later courses) and we’re nearly done with our second (gross anatomy). I feel like I’ve also learned a lot about the dynamic of a medical school class. I’ll add a disclaimer before this article: since I’ve only just started, I am nowhere near knowing everything about how to succeed in medical school. Nevertheless, I’ll share a few thoughts that I have had so far.

My first piece of advice for the newly-minted medical student is to do something that most of us type-A personalities aren’t used to doing: relax! The application process is stressful and I think it’s hard for very competitive students to turn off that drive to get a leg up. But by and large, my medical school class is much more laid back about academics than I expected. We all want to do well, of course, but that doesn’t translate to isolation or cutthroat competition. We work together to do the best we can and help each other succeed. Residency applications are much more holistic than medical school applications; most programs expect some baseline level of academic achievement but then weigh heavily each applicant’s individual experiences, including research, community service, and leadership. A weakness in one aspect of the application can certainly be made up by excellence in another aspect. But I’m getting ahead of myself! A more relevant reason to dial back the competitiveness is to get along well with the members of your class. Many of these people will be your future colleagues, so wanting them to do the best they can is certainly in your best interest! As I said above, working together has been a big part of my experience so far. We have spent long hours at school teaching each other difficult concepts. Which brings me to my next insight.

I am happy to confirm that what I suspected is true: it’s a lot more fun to study things that you’re interested in! While general education classes are invaluable, I am finding it much less grueling to put in long hours studying than I have in years past. Part of the reason for this is that I realize the things I’m studying today will serve as the foundation for my medical practice. In gross anatomy, for example, we correlate each group of structures to its relevant pathologies. I now know why ear infections occur more often in children than adults (the increasing angle of the auditory tube) and why only certain parts of your hand go numb when you hit your funny bone (they are those portions innervated by the ulnar nerve). I expect the same relevancy when we take pharmacology next month and as we progress through each body system over the next two years. The alarming amounts of time that medical students spend studying don’t feel nearly as bad as you might think, especially when surrounded by like-minded peers and material that you’ll be using for the rest of your professional life.

I think my last point goes along with my first, but whereas the first point merely involved how to think about medical school, this one involves how you actually spend your time. Balancing schoolwork with everything else is, I believe, the key to sustaining academic success for four years. Just like undergrad, medical school doesn’t exist in a vacuum; it is important to spend time developing yourself as a person outside of coursework. Doing so will make you a better provider. The students that make up my class have incredible talents and diverse interests that are still a part of their everyday lives. They were selected for our class not only for their academic success but also for these talents. Balancing school with life also ensures that you can sustain your study habits for a full four years. Medical school burnout is a real thing (and is to be avoided!), and efficient study habits will ensure that you both do as well as you can in school while continuing to live your life.

If you have any questions about my experiences so far or want to contact me for any other reason, I’m available at [email protected]. I’m looking forward to continuing to engage with HOSA members through this blog. Until next time!


Source: HOSA Blog

Healthcare in America-Part II

David Kelly, 2012-2013 President, HOSA-Future Health Professionals

Medical Student, College of Medicine, The University of Oklahoma

In my last article, I talked about what I consider to be the two most significant reasons why healthcare costs are continually increasing in the United States. In the end, I narrowed the discussion down to two phenomena – the increased use of the healthcare system as Americans become on average older and less healthy and the continual development of treatments that grow more expensive as they become more advanced and personalized. Now I’d like to put a more positive spin on things and discuss how we might correct some aspects of these troubling trends. I also want to consider where we may actually be heading. Let’s dive in!

Partially correcting increased care use is simple – people must make healthier lifestyle choices if we are going to decrease the rate at which costs grow. That’s easier said than done, however. The single greatest thing that we as Future Health Professionals can do to this end is educate our patients about their own health. Americans’ diet and exercise habits are by and large grossly unhealthy, but knowledge is power. Let’s consider a single example: soft drinks. Many Americans drink a soda with almost every meal, and some drink many more than that. But consider that a single can of soda has, on average, 39 grams of sugar. That’s 10 sugar cubes or the same amount of sugar in two slices of apple pie. Thus if you drink six cans of soda per day, that’s equivalent to the sugar in two whole apple pies. If we can empower people through education to make healthy decisions, then over time our society will spend less on treating the chronic comorbidities that come with conditions like obesity.

Controlling the cost of advanced healthcare innovation is a far more delicate task. How do we encourage innovation while also protecting consumers from overpaying for advanced treatments? I think any approach here has to be multifaceted, but I also think that the burden here rests largely on the government. This is why facilities such as the NIH are important and why the government gives vast grants to research universities and labs around the country. These researchers are working on medical breakthroughs without expecting a huge payday when a treatment goes to market. Not that private companies can’t be a part of this too – controlling the prices that treatments are sold at not through regulation but through the payment of subsidies may be a balanced option. I don’t purport to know enough about the pharmaceutical or medical technology industries to propose a more concrete solution, but I do know that the money that we spend on public research is money well spent.

Enough about what I think needs to be done – what will really happen? Healthcare is a volatile topic these days, and while everything may seem hopelessly complex, I do think we’ll find a way out. It’s important to understand that things will get worse before they get better. Increased health care utilization by the generation known as “baby boomers” will push health care costs higher over the next decade, and we’ll continue to see the effects of diets high in processed foods and high smoking rates for years to come. The biggest positive shift that I’m beginning to see is one that I called out in my last article – the transition from a conversation about healthcare to a conversation about health. We have vast stores of knowledge on the internet, and so people are empowered as never before to learn about their health and the factors affecting it. I think that we will begin to see a more robust push against processed foods coming from our government and healthcare providers. I also think that people will begin to demand healthier options in what they eat – even if it’s fast food. We are already seeing that shift begin to take shape. Improvements in diet and exercise can and will decrease healthcare costs across the board. I also think that ultimately, the government will get more involved in regulation of pharmaceutical, medical technology, and insurance companies; this isn’t based on any political idea, but simply on the fact that we are one of the few industrialized countries that has not yet made that transition. Healthcare will always be hard – particularly, it will always be hard to pay for. But working together with other players within the system will undoubtedly lead to better outcomes for our wallets – and for our health.

Disagree with any of my thoughts? Think that there’s a larger problem that I’m not seeing? Email me at [email protected] and tell me about it!


Source: HOSA Blog

Healthcare in America-Part I

David Kelly, 2012-2013 President, HOSA-Future Health Professionals

Medical Student, College of Medicine, The University of Oklahoma

For the last several years, healthcare has dominated political conversation in the United States. This is not without good reason – healthcare is an incredibly costly undertaking (nearly 1/5th of our GDP), and the degree to which we as a society want to subsidize or collectivize it can be (and is!) debated ad nauseam with valid points made from many angles. But the conversation I want to have today isn’t political. Today I’d like to talk about why costs are rising independent of what happens in Washington. First, though, I feel that I need to share how it’s possible that the healthcare conversation need not be political.

Popular culture in recent years might have you believe that the rising cost of healthcare is largely due to legislation. I think that this is overly simplistic. Healthcare, as Future Health Professionals know, is a hugely complex system with many different players: providers, patients, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, medical technology companies, and governments (among many, many others). There is an argument to be made that cutting one or more of these agents out of the loop might lower healthcare costs, but that is a debate for another time. Governments can for example control insurance companies to a certain extent, but as we’ve seen over the last few years, any restriction inevitably has unintended consequences. There is a delicate balance between government and industry here, but what I want to talk about is far more significant but far less complex than that balance. Healthcare costs have steadily increased for the past few decades independent of many of the actions of government – why? I believe that there are two answers – we are using more healthcare and we are using more expensive healthcare. In this article, I’ll examine these two phenomena and propose why they are contributing to rising costs. In my next article, I’ll attempt to both posit a few solutions to these issues and discuss where we may actually be heading.

The single largest thing pushing healthcare costs higher in the last half-century is our increased use of the system. This is driven in large part by our increased average life expectancy. Not all of increased use is unavoidable, though. People need more healthcare than ever before due to phenomena like the obesity epidemic. Type two diabetes and heart disease (which in many cases stem from obesity) are chronic diseases that cost insurance companies (and thus patients) incredible amounts of money over time. Insurance companies control costs for healthy subscribers somewhat by labeling these as pre-existing conditions and placing these subscribers in a higher risk (read: more expensive) pool. The debate over this practice is, again, a conversation for another time. If everybody was healthy, our costs would naturally plummet. Obesity and its comorbidities are just one prominent example, but hopefully you can see that in order to reduce healthcare costs, we can’t simply manipulate one part of the system – we have to learn to use it less through changes in our lifestyles.

Discrete from but parallel to the increased use issue is our use of more expensive healthcare. This is an equally difficult issue to deal with, because lowering costs may indeed require some manipulation of the system (in this case pharmaceutical and medical technology companies). The classical argument to be made is between patients who feel that drug prices should be regulated and companies that counter that the high price of drugs pays for their development and supports future research. Regardless of where you stand on this issue, incredible advances in healthcare research are giving patients better outcomes. These advances come at great cost to the system and thus to patients, but they nevertheless are extending our lives and making us healthier (even though, as discussed earlier, we are as a whole getting sicker). Years ago, large pharmaceutical companies couldn’t develop compounds with the precision that they do today. Medical technology companies couldn’t create robots to perform surgery. In a way, you could say that healthcare is getting more expensive because we are keeping sicker people in better health. How ironic!

One interesting category of healthcare use blends these two trends – the extraordinary measures taken near a patient’s end-of-life. In recent years, debate has raged over the cost of these extraordinary measures that may only extend a patient’s life by hours or minutes. We can artificially sustain life pretty well, continually resuscitating patients and placing them on life-sustaining machines that breathe, eat, and drink for them. The questions that loved ones must ask themselves in these circumstances have become more difficult to answer as technology has blurred the lines of life and death.

More than anything, my goal today was simply to impress upon you how misguided I think the current healthcare conversation in the United States is. Shortly after my time as HOSA National President, I was invited to represent HOSA at an ideas roundtable in Washington, D.C. We discussed over two days how to make this conversational shift from one of healthcare to one of health. I can already see this change beginning to happen, and in my next post, I’d like to talk about how we might make this change happen faster and what might come out of these discussions.


Source: HOSA Blog

Executive Team Workout

At the 2017 CTE Summer Conference in Greensboro, the 2017 – 2018 Executive Team was told to wear workout clothes for a required event. They had no idea that they would be involved with a high-energy, calorie burning (and fun) workout in Club Fifth Season. 

Source: NC HOSA Blog