Second career Nursing student mentors others in their journey
Travis Wealand ’20 often had a front row seat to the action in the operating room. He sold surgical implants for Johnson & Johnson and visited hospitals and doctors who needed his products. It was that exposure to the medical world that made him consider a career change.
Now 38, Wealand will receive his Bachelor’s in Nursing this December from York College of Pennsylvania. He already has a degree in Communication from Shippensburg University. But, even with those accomplishments, he’s looking for the next advancement and plans to enroll in the Nurse Anesthetist Program at York College.
“I knew York College had a great program,” he says. “When I saw what this career could offer, I wanted to go there for my education.”
Pursuing his degree at York College not only gave Wealand access to great professors and state-of-the-art labs, but it allowed him to get real-world experience long before he finished school. With neighboring WellSpan York Hospital near the York College campus, Wealand took advantage of the job opportunities there and works as a nursing assistant in the Cardiac ICU.
“That’s been an incredible complement to my education,” Wealand says. “It’s important to have ICU experience in the CRNA program, and this just gave me a taste of that early.”
His experience at the hospital would change considerably when COVID-19 came to Central Pennsylvania and his unit turned its focus to patients with the coronavirus. In addition to now treating patients with respiratory instead of cardiac failure, Wealand had to adjust to added protocols.
“It has given me a deeper appreciation of the expectations of a nurse,” he says. “No matter what is thrown at you, you’re still expected to step up, adapt, and do your job to take care of people. That’s just the day-to-day job.”
The college experience at 38 looks different than it does for Wealand’s peers in their early twenties. It has given him the perspective that he has something to give to those coming up behind him, and he has volunteered many hours as a tutor for Pharmacology and Medical Surgical students. Wealand also sat on a panel over the summer to answer student questions about heading to clinical at York Hospital and what it would be like because of COVID-19.
Tutoring students has its benefits, he says. For one, it helps him learn the material better. It also helps him develop the mindset of a mentor, which is something he’s seen a lot of nurses in the field do when new graduates step onto the unit.
“I know I’m going to be a better nurse because of the people who took the time to guide me,” he says. “It’s really rewarding to help others find their success.”