Two senior nursing students are eager to graduate and start their careers. Grant Schluntz will be working at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis as a registered nurse on an acute medicine/general medical floor. Sarah Wortman will be working at Memorial Medical Center in Springfield as a registered nurse in the medical/surgical unit.

Sarah and Grant took some time to reflect on all that the Mennonite College of Nursing (MCN) at Illinois State University has done to prepare them for career success.

Why did you choose Illinois State?

Sarah: I was also going to go elsewhere but I visited the Illinois State campus and liked it a lot, so I compared the nursing statistics. Illinois State’s passing rate on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) was higher than the other schools I was looking at.

Grant: I was initially planning on attending Saint Louis University. My sister went to Illinois State for nursing as well, so she convinced me to visit and meet the MCN faculty. I shadowed her classes and fell in love with the professors.

How did you choose nursing as a major?

Sarah: I took a class in high school that exposed me to health care and helped me realize that I enjoyed it. I later shadowed a nurse practitioner, which solidified that this was what I wanted to do.

Grant: I wanted to be a nurse because of my grandma. She was an OB-GYN nurse and she’d always tell me stories about helping patients. It motivated me to want to help people and nurses help people in their most vulnerable moments.

Tell us about your overall experience with MCN.

Sarah: MCN prepares students very well academically, which is shown by our high NCLEX pass rates. I’ve been challenged and given a lot of opportunities outside of typical clinicals. They’ve had us attend conferences and transcultural nursing trips.

Faculty are really personable, and they try to get to know their students. Professors will buy their clinical groups meals every so often or even invite us over to their house.

Grant: MCN does a really great job of preparing us for the real world. As a nurse, institutions will have high expectations for us to perform our duties as well as we can. Nursing school has been difficult, but I’m glad it was because you want someone who knows what they’re doing when they’re caring for your loved ones.

What kind of work have you done for MCN?

Sarah: In addition to clinicals, I was heavily involved in Student Nurses’ Association (SNA) events. I also went on the transcultural nursing experience in Russia. I’m helping make a promotional video for the trip.

Grant: We have at least one clinical every semester, most of the time two. That’s how we get our hands-on experience. At the University, I worked on programming for the PROUD program; I was the student representative for the college council committee and college electoral committee. I am on the prelicensure curriculum committee this year. We discuss the MCN curriculum and what needs to be changed in the classroom. I volunteered for SNA. I’m a peer support mentor through the college, so I mentor juniors who are just starting the nursing program. I also represented the college as a student presenter at the Culturally Responsive Campus Community Committee. I presented with two professors on the importance of equal care for the LGBTQ community. We represented MCN regarding health care for all communities.

Who is your favorite instructor and why?

Sarah: Lynn Kennell and Brenda Johnson. Brenda teaches geriatrics, and Lynn teaches pediatrics. Both are so passionate about what they’re teaching. They inspire their students to consider that field of nursing even if they’ve never thought about going into it for themselves. They both care about their students’ success and overall well-being.

Grant: Lynn Kennell and Valentina Fillman. Lynn is so passionate. She teaches maternal infant and pediatrics and she instills her passion in us while she’s teaching. She’s so personable and wants to get to know all of us. Valentina teaches critical care nursing, and I eventually want to work in an intensive care unit. She inspired me because she’s knowledgeable and has good experience.

Advice for future MCN students?

Sarah: You need to get a planner and write everything down. Meet friends in the program to support you and help you if you don’t understand something. You need good time management skills. Try not to procrastinate.

Grant: The most important thing is to always remember your end goal because there were a lot of times I was frustrated or stressed. I’d always tell myself that I’d soon get to do what I love every day and that this is what I needed to be doing. There are also a lot of great people to support you.