As I imagine myself standing in your shoes, I want to let you know that you are about to embark on some of best and hardest years of your life. My name is Kate Gieschen, and I am a fourth-year nursing student from Davis, California. As I near the end of my college career, I am so struck by the ways I have been able to grow and change at UCLA. Nursing is a tough path to embark on anywhere, but UCLA has a really wonderful arrangement where you spend the majority of your time with 40-50 other students. This is called your cohort, and they will become your family. Having their support will shape your experience in so many ways.
If you are a nursing major, the first two years of your program will be spent doing lots of pre-requisites and science classes. While you will take at least one nursing class each quarter, you will mainly focus on building your foundation with knowledge about biology, chemistry, calculus, and psychology. You will take many classes with pre-med majors as well as General Education classes with students across campus. Take advantage of this! I loved my first two years because they allowed me to make friends with people who have all sorts of different passions. My roommates majored in political science, engineering, psychology, English, economics, and communications. It was so fun learning from people who were studying such different topics from me.
The last two years of the nursing program focus on clinical rotations and more in-depth nursing classes. During this time, you will only have classes with your cohort, and what a blessing they will be to you! Some of my best friends are in my cohort, and I know that they will be a part of my life for many years to come. There is a special bond that comes from experiencing the ups and downs of school together. These classmates will understand on a deeper level the experiences you have at the hospital. You will travel in groups of 8-10 students and spend hours at different clinical sites across the Greater Los Angeles area. If you don’t bond at 5:30am when driving to the hospital in the dark, you certainly will at 7:30pm on the ride home!
My classmates inspire me every day. They have risen to so many challenges and overcome so many obstacles. We all come from very different backgrounds, but every single person in our cohort has a passion for serving others. I have watched them take on any task willingly, learn huge amounts of information very quickly, apply their knowledge, and act selflessly to care for their patients. Together with the nurses precepting us and our professors guiding with us to learn, we have been able to have such a wonderful experience. I feel so lucky to be able to care for people at the beginning of their lives (we have a labor and delivery rotation!) and the end of their lives (what a privilege). The life of a nursing major is not typical when you think about a UCLA undergraduate, but it is so rich. I feel so grateful for the opportunities UCLA has given me, and I will treasure my last 4 years as I head into my future!