In an effort to learn more about the FastBacc® program and hear from an alum at the Baylor University Louise Herrington School of Nursing (LHSON), meet Ruth Holzman who graduated in December 2017 and now works in a level one trauma center in Austin, Texas in the medical ICU. Her journey to become a nurse evolved into a blessing during a difficult time in her life. Two years before nursing school she was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease. When she first arrived at Baylor the staff worked tirelessly to help plan her schedule to make sure her medical needs and appointments were met within the first few days of starting classes. Then during her last semester, she unexpectedly had to have spinal surgery. She remembers how the LHSON faculty, staff and even her classmates showered her with support. Despite additional medical-related setbacks, Ruth eventually graduated with honors from the FastBacc program at Baylor LHSON. She shares her perspective below on becoming a Baylor nurse!
Why did you choose the FastBacc® program at Baylor and how did the faculty/staff support you?
My original reasons for choosing the FastBacc program was purely for the quick, 12-month program with great ratings. However, I learned almost immediately that I had signed up for a lot more than a simple 12-month program. Instead, I joined a family that supported me like I was one of their own.
What are the advantages of the FastBacc® program over other programs you considered?
Baylor is an outstanding school, by all methods of comparison. But it's so much more than rankings and percentages of new grads finding jobs. It's the support, the community, the love and laughter that comes along with it. I can safely say my nursing school journey would not have been so supported at any other school. It's about more than making the grade at LHSON. It’s about caring for people, just like nursing. The staff, faculty and the students themselves make it a positive learning environment in which to thrive.
What distinguishes a Baylor University nurse?
For me, I feel that I learned more than just the facts and numbers during nursing school. A Baylor nurse carries their pin with a badge of honor. Being a nurse is a huge responsibility and being a Baylor nurse sets you apart. The students at LHSON support one another, rather than compete. They lift each other up, instead of pushing others aside. It's the same after we graduate. I like to think that I get to give out some of the love and support that Baylor gave me to my coworkers and patients as a nurse.
How did completing the FastBacc® program positively impact your life professionally?
Completing the FastBacc program helped me learn in so many ways--how to absorb information quickly, adapt to new situations that deviate from the path I planned, how to remain hopeful in situations that seem hopeless. All of these lessons I learned during nursing school are a part of my daily life and have made me a better nurse for it. FastBacc is not easy, it’s a lot of information in a limited amount of time. The same can be said for working in an ICU. I have to quickly absorb the information in front of me and act quickly for the best possible outcome of my patients. Working smarter, not harder, as they say. There are literally endless (I do not say this lightly) examples of how my experience at Baylor in the FastBacc program positively impacted me! One of my favorite ways is the extensive network of nurses and professors that I maintain relationships with after graduating. When a new grad gets a job placement in Austin, but isn't from here, faculty and staff at Baylor reach out to grads who ended up here—there’s a whole network of us--all helping one another! It's FAR more than just getting a degree in a 12-month period. It's making lifelong friendships and giving back to people in such a meaningful way.
What advice would you give someone considering the FastBacc® program?
I would tell them to first, take an honest look at how you best thrive in a learning environment. FastBacc works best with students who can thrive in 6-week (or sometimes shorter) class time frames. My opinion, is that the only thing harder than doing nursing school in one year, is doing it in two years! I'd also say that it’s very important to have support around you during your year in FastBacc. If you moved away from family like I did to go to nursing school, don't worry! There are now endless methods of video-chatting and keeping in touch. Most importantly, use your resources! There are resources for things you didn't even know you might need, all available to you, simply by asking for help. It's important to remember that none of us got through nursing school alone, ask for help when you need it! I promise it’s there.