“My grandfather was hospitalized and had trouble recognizing family,” said Ian Weigand. “But if I asked him to do something, he would pretty much immediately listen,” Ian remembered. “I think he just felt comfortable, and he was able to open up.” Seeing the empathy Ian showed, his mother told him he would make a good nurse.
Ian had always liked helping people, which had led him to earn a bachelor’s degree in exercise physiology with a pre-physical therapy concentration. But after he tore his hamstrings and went through three months of physical therapy, he began to reconsider his initial career choice. “Straight physical therapy seemed too repetitive for me,” he said. “It was not as interesting as I thought it would be when I first started at 18 years old.”
His mother’s comment encouraged him to shift his career goal to nursing. “It’ll keep me on my toes,” he remarked.
Ian knew Immaculata’s undergraduate nursing program had a good reputation and a high pass rate for the nursing licensure exam. He applied to the program, and when the staff saw that he already had a bachelor’s degree, they told him Immaculata had just created an accelerated, second-degree nursing program. “It was great timing,” Ian said.
He will complete his degree in May 2021. Though the coursework is challenging, Ian is motivated, and he appreciates the small classes. “You tend not to get lost,” he reflected. “I think every single one of my professors would do anything they could to help me.” Ian and his classmates started practicing their skills using software that simulates clinical situations. Working with a virtual patient who had diabetes and needed wound care, the students had to introduce themselves, gather information from the patient, take vital signs and follow a doctor’s orders.
Next, Ian and his cohort began a five-week clinical rotation at a hospital psychiatric unit, working with patients with various diagnoses, ranging from eating disorders to depression. Ian helped evaluate a few patients, asking them how they were and observing their symptoms. While some patients didn’t say much, Ian noticed that others talked freely. “It’s so cool seeing the impact when you have a conversation, when you talk to them and ask them how they’re doing, how much that actually meant to them,” he said.
“Therapeutic communication is one of the first things they teach us in nursing school.” Looking back at his interaction with his grandfather, he said, “I think I already possessed that skill.” He is thinking about specializing in psychiatric nursing when he graduates. As a nurse, he added, “You get to care for people, interact with people and learn people’s stories.”