A MSN (Entry Into Nursing) Student’s Journey Through the Program: Q&A With Claire Grubb 

A MSN (Entry Into Nursing) Student’s Journey Through the Program: Q&A With Claire Grubb 

Why did you want to become a nurse?

I wanted to be a nurse because of the positive interactions I had with nurses while I studied pre-med in undergrad. I went to Loyola University Maryland for my undergrad and studied Biochemistry. I was hitting the grades, coursework, and extracurriculars to apply for medical school, but once I started gathering more clinical exposure, I became hesitant about my career path. Nursing fits my drive to pursue health science while leaving lots of flexibility to try new roles in leadership, academia, and clinical spaces.

My pre-health advisor and faculty sponsor of Health Outreach Baltimore, Dr. Maiju Lehmijoki Wetzel, RN, was a primary driver in exploring health-centered careers and staying ambitious with my journey. I also had a very positive experience working with the Free Clinic of Culpeper in 2020. The program director, Tammy LaGraffe, RN, involved me in community health efforts in a rural setting and showed me the wide range of roles nurses can take on within a clinic. My family also had an impact on me choosing nursing. Getting my RN will make me a third-generation nurse! The majority of my dad’s career has been spent in clinical research, so I think that has kept my mind open to non-traditional nursing roles from the get-go. In entering the nursing field, I didn’t have any specific goal for a single job, I was more drawn to all the doors it could open.   

What has been the most memorable experience throughout your 5-semester experience? 

My most memorable experiences from my 5 semesters were from my simulation days. Some simulations were very sobering, where it would hit me that I would be the nurse in just a year and that holds a huge responsibility. Some simulation days were just funny. During the “normal birth” simulation our pregnant manikin malfunctioned, and my entire clinical group couldn’t stop cracking up at the botched anatomy. Only a couple months before that, the simulation for our psych rotation gave me a window into a patient experience that haunts me to this day. All in all, most of my strongest emotions and most poignant moments were experienced during my simulation days.

What has been the most challenging part of your 5 semesters, and how did you get through it?

The hardest part of my time in nursing school was self-inflicted. I elected to be part of the Fuld Fellowship program, a two-semester course that connects students with a faculty advisor who integrates them into a quality improvement and/or safety project in their respective field. There was also a seminar component where guest speakers share about their non-traditional nursing role and participate in a Q&A about their nursing journey. While I have had a positive set of outcomes and opportunities from my time in Fuld, it was admittedly biting off more than I could chew at the time. I managed my time better in the first semester than in the following semesters, so I quickly became overwhelmed with the demands of adding research onto my plate.

A couple weeks in, I went to Dr. Sarah Allgood, the program director for Fuld, and told her I wanted to quit and that I was feeling nervous that I wouldn’t be bringing much to the table. This was extremely out of character for me and marked a low point. Dr. Allgood is awesome, so she encouraged me to push forward on my project and she eased a lot of the fears I had going into the program. I am so glad she did because the work that I have been doing with Dr. Nancy Goldstein has taught me so much more than I anticipated. I extended my research past the two semesters and generated a manuscript that recently got accepted to the American Journal of Nursing! I also was able to present my research at the Maryland Nursing Association Conference in Fall of 2023.   

Favorite thing about living in Baltimore City during your 5 semesters?

My favorite part of living in Baltimore is probably the food. There are so many authentic foods from any culture you can think of here, and I have so much fun trying new things. There are plenty of affordable options for good food, so I don’t have to be too extravagant about it. Coffee shops and bakeries are especially fun to explore. Since most of my class work is on my laptop, my friends and I will seek out a croissant with a side of studying.

I think having a food blog (@grubbs.grub) that focuses on Baltimore foods helped me out at the beginning of the program because it was something to talk about. I haven’t been super active lately, but it does make me smile when I get a random text from a classmate asking for restaurant recommendations because I asserted myself as a “foodie”.  

What professor, clinical instructor etc. had the most impact on you?  

At the time I was under the impression that critical care was very unattainable for a new grad and that in my second semester I was not adept enough to comprehend complex patients like recent transplant recipients. My chronic clinical instructor, Lauren Choy, did a lot of work encouraging me that I was capable of so much more. She assigned me complicated patients each week and was always eager to talk extra about any aspect of patient care. Lauren also coordinated a tour of the medical ICU during our rotation to expand our knowledge of critical care beyond the intermediate care beds. Because of Lauren’s encouragement so early in the program, I have since allowed myself to be more ambitious in my aspirations. I also credit her to making me so interested in critical care, which I hope to pursue in the future!  

What’s in store after you graduate?

After I graduate, I have already secured a job working on the Comprehensive Transplant Unit at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. I spent my practicum on the same floor, so I feel more familiar with the role I will be stepping into.   

My most exciting plan after graduating is the chance to travel!! I couldn’t study abroad in undergrad and have not had much time off during my MSN for travel, so I am making up for it now. I will be in Brazil and Japan before my job orientation starts!  

Advice for future Hopkins Nurses, why choosing Hopkins is the way to go?  

I will always encourage future Hopkins nursing students to utilize your resources!! There are a lot of places where you can study to be an RN, but there are not many that will give you the wealth of connections to a hospital system, research opportunities, leadership preparation, and access to a top-tier medical facility. A degree at Hopkins is a big deal, so set goals of how you plan to utilize the access that the school makes available to you.

I would also take the time to be social in your first semester. I found that I had the most-free time in the first semester, so it was easier to make evening/weekend plans. Once school demanded more from me, it was easy to fall back on friendships I had already established!

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Admissions Talks is a series by the admissions team at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. Hopkins nurses are full partners and leaders in the health care process, and their role in patient care is unmatched. The admissions team is here to offer advice and guidance on how to be a competitive applicant. 

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