#CHBSChats with Katie Lynch

Read more about why Katie finds nursing to be a perfect fit


Series produced by: Morgan Bond
Creative Services Social Media Assistant

PHOTO: Katie Lynch

Why did you choose to study nursing?

With a father as a paramedic and a mother as a medical technologist, a career in the medical field seemed inevitable. For my eighth birthday, I received a microscope and an anatomy book. Throughout high school, I loved science and considered a career in biology. I attended the Career and Technology Center for biomedical sciences and fell in love. I learned not only about microbiology, but the anatomy and physiology of the human body. As a result of this class, I obtained an internship at the National Cancer Institute and worked there my senior year. I worked with different chemotherapy agents on pancreatic cancer. Spending hours at a bench every day, I knew I was helping patients and making a difference but I didn’t get that personal connection I needed to thrive. I needed to look a patient in the eye and say, “I am going to do everything in my power to help you.” I met with my adviser and she suggested I consider a career in nursing. Luckily for me, I came in contact with a nurse practitioner who let me shadow her for a day. In a single day, in a few interactions with patients, I knew nursing was what I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing. 

What are some of your favorite experiences from being part of the nursing program?

My favorite experiences have come from simulation as well as from clinical rotations. What I love about nursing is that you are able to apply your skills and knowledge directly. One day you’re learning about how to help a mom during the labor and delivery process and the next day you get to see it all in action. The professors in simulation provide a safe environment where it is okay to make mistakes in order to understand how to complete a task correctly. This environment gives you the confidence to effortlessly perform skills with a patient in clinical. 

How has the learning environment in nursing helped you become more successful?

All of our professors are extremely passionate about their specialties and you can see that through their lectures. Even subjects I was initially unsure about I was able to feed off of the professor’s enthusiasm and dive right in. It would be nearly impossible to sit through a three hour lecture without the in class activities and the enthusiasm they bring. JMU also provides a safe simulation environment to further promote learning. At first I was very nervous about being filmed and then having to watch back my skills and be critiqued, but now I love having the instant feedback. It’s one thing to take an exam and be able to apply concepts theoretically but it’s a whole other ball game to apply what you have learned in real life, which is what simulation lets you do. 

Tell us about one of your favorite nursing professors.

My favorite nursing professor is Dr. Betsy Herron. She was my pharmacology professor my first semester of nursing school, and my clinical applications professor this semester. I came to her also to discuss my honors thesis and she has become my project advisor. She has gone above and beyond to help me not only with my honors thesis but help me with difficult to understand topics in class. She has way of breaking down a topic into its specific parts in order to make it very clear and easy to understand. She provides case studies as examples and goes over exactly what the clinical presentation would be for each condition we cover in class. We are then able to talk through how we would treat this patient and manage their symptoms. 

How has the nursing program helped prepare you for life after college? 

The nursing program has helped me prepare for being a nurse in not only the clinical skills but those soft skills that are necessary to be a nurse. Over the summer I had an internship in a Neurotrauma Critical Care ICU, during this internship I experienced many patients that didn’t have the best prognosis and it was a shock to the family. Without my experiences and education from JMU I would have no idea how to communicate with these families. It gave me the confidence to advocate for my patients and provide that culturally competent care. 

Where do you see yourself going with nursing after you graduate?

My goal is to work in an ICU upon graduation (fingers crossed), and then I eventually want to do flight nursing but that is a few years away. I’ve always wanted to do something in an acute care setting and through my experience at JMU as well as my internship over the summer I was able to figure out the type of unit I wanted to be on. 

What are some traits a student needs to succeed in nursing and what would you tell a prospective student about the major?

The most important trait to have in nursing school is time management. You have to simultaneously prepare for exams, lectures, and also clinical rotations and it can seem very overwhelming if you aren’t prepared. However, what I love most about nursing is how rewarding it is. You can be bogged down from work but the next day go to clinical, help one patient, and everything you’ve worked so hard for seems 100% worth it. 

What do you like most about being involved in the nursing major?

Currently I am the chair of the Nursing Student Advisory Council and I absolutely love the opportunity that I have to give back to the nursing program itself through this position. Part of my role is organizing mentoring sessions for semester 1 nursing students as well as students that have just gotten into the program but haven’t started yet. I love this because I can remember how scared and confused I was when I first started out. I’m able to ease their worries as well as give them some tips and tricks on how to get the most out of their time in the nursing program here at JMU.  VISIT THE NURSING WEBSITE

Just for fun...

  • Best place to eat on campus?
    Personally I’ve always been a big fan of Ehall! I lived in Shenandoah my freshman year so I was there for at least one meal a day and never missed a weekend brunch. 
  • Favorite place to relax on campus?
    My favorite relaxation place is definitely on the Quad, although I don’t get to relax very often I try to go there whenever I can. It’s nice to be outside in the fresh air after class all day and there are usually an abundance of friendly puppies to pet.
  • Favorite thing about Harrisonburg?
    My favorite thing about living in Harrisonburg is going to the puppy farm with friends. I don’t have my own dog but I like to go and get as much puppy loving as I can for only $5!
  • Favorite JMU tradition?
    My favorite JMU tradition is throwing streamers at the JMU football games. I’ve gone to nearly every game in my four years here and my parents come down to tailgate them as well. 
  • Best piece of advice?
    The best advice I can give is to appreciate every moment you have here, because time flies crazy fast. I can still remember watching my parents drive away as they dropped my off my freshman year and it’s crazy to me that I am graduating in less than a year. 

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Published: Thursday, October 12, 2017

Last Updated: Tuesday, February 21, 2023

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