My Unique Experiences Help Me See Patients Differently. Johns Hopkins Embraces That.

My Unique Experiences Help Me See Patients Differently. Johns Hopkins Embraces That.

By: Tatiana M. Gallego

Just two short years ago, I was in the same boat as you—making some tough choices about what I wanted out of life. I knew one thing: I wanted to become a nurse. I wanted my life to be full of meaningful experiences that fulfilled me and gave me purpose.

And yet it took over ten years, two previous masters’ degrees, and a whole other life before I found nursing. I wouldn’t have it any other way—my unique life and educational experiences allow me to see patients, situations, and solutions differently than my peers.

Guess what? Johns Hopkins embraces that.

In my cohort, we have 144 very different individuals. Their ages range from 21 to 50, their former careers range from business consultants to musicians, health educators to marines—and some fresh-out-of-college folks too. Johns Hopkins wants students from diverse backgrounds because we challenge the status quo. It’s time to think about what you’re going to add to this community. And what you’ll take away from it.

A lot of people say “nursing school is what you make of it.” It’s true.

For me, I’m 34 years old and back in school full-time; I’m here, I’m involved, and I’m getting my money’s worth! I run the Global Health Nursing Interest Group, I’m a leader in the Birth Companions program, and I’m the Breakthrough to Nursing Director of the Student Nurses Association. I have a work-study job as a research assistant with the Center for Innovative Care in Aging and a part-time job at the Cheesecake Factory. Academically, I was just asked to join Sigma, the honor society of nursing. Shout out to the tutors at the Academic Success Center!

The Nursing School Survival Guide 

On the flip side, nursing school can be a place where you clock in—go to class, go to lab, study for a few hours—then clock out, go home and cook dinner for your family. That doesn’t sound like a lot of fun to me, or like you’re making the most of your experience. Nursing school isn’t always fun or easy, but for me it’s been an amazing, unforgettable journey full of laughs, tears, forever friendships, and a whole lot of making it my own.

Find your passion. There are hundreds of ways to get involved and make an impact; my classmates tutor kids in elementary school, volunteer with older adults, or in hospice units, or at health fairs. After your first semester you can even apply for your CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) license and get a job as a technician in the hospital. I get paid to do what I love: educate pregnant families about their choices and attend their labor and deliveries.

Find your place. Baltimore, the “Charm City,” really is charming. There is always something going on; I have classmates that run marathons on weekends, others that explore farmers’ markets. My friends and I have committed to trying new restaurants each month. Whatever it is, get out and explore. Soon this will be your city and you’re going to love it.

I won’t lie and say I had balance from the beginning. I clocked in over 60 hours a week my first two semesters; I stressed, read more than I needed, got a tutor, freaked out alone, freaked out with new friends. I called my best friend one night in tears; after a weekend spent closing down the school, leaving with the security guard at 11:30 p.m., I didn’t get the grade I wanted. She put it in perspective. “You go to Johns Hopkins, lighten up a bit,” she said. “It’s the best nursing school in the country and you’re doing fine! You passed right? Just keep going!”

Even if you have to remind yourself every day, remember that you were chosen for this.

Those first two semesters test your commitment and resilience, but Johns Hopkins is a world-renowned medical institution and the school of nursing is number one in the country. With that comes a rigorous academic program that’s accelerated. It’s a runaway train that’s headed in the right direction.

Picture this: you’re sitting in lecture and your professor is the author of your textbook. Our faculty and staff are second to none, every few weeks we get emails about the awards and accolades they receive. And they’re right here in the same building so you can get to know them. You might even join their research team!

Hopkins really is an amazing, supportive place to be. I had a tutor—actually four—because regardless of how many times I listened to the lectures and watched YouTube videos, I needed more help. Hopkins provided that support. And one of my favorite things is that the school doesn’t feel snobby. The people here are hard workers, change-makers, and the future of health care.

That’s why we want you here, too.

But before you come, rest. Get that massage you’ve been talking about, hang out with your family and friends. Don’t worry about the workload that’s coming, live in the “now.” Fill up your cup because nursing school is grueling. But it will all be worth it in 20 short months, because you’ll not only be a nurse, but a Hopkins nurse. Remember, #WEGOTTHIS.


Read more:


Tatiana M. Gallego is a rising 5th semester student in the MSN (Entry into Nursing) program. Before deciding to become a nurse, Tatiana worked in international relations, government affairs, and policy in Washington, DC. She is a a Birth Companion and student leader with the Global Health Nursing Interest Group and Student Nurses Association, and was recently inducted into Sigma, the Honor Society of Nursing. Tatiana is also a research assistant in the the Center for Innovative Care in Aging and volunteers with Baltimore’s Spanish-speaking community. Ultimately her goal is to marry her policy interests with health care to make lasting change. When not studying, Tatiana enjoys exploring Baltimore’s charm through its eateries and breweries.


Stay Up-To-Date

Get updates on the latest stories, from hot topics, to faculty research, alumni profiles, and more.

Ways to subscribe