InFocus: Pre-Nursing Association
Elizabeth Webb is a Pre-Nursing student at Texas Tech. She is from a military family that moved around a lot. She's lived in places like Colorado, Alaska, and even Japan, but she decided to study Nursing at Texas Tech because, as she puts it, she “needed some warmth.”
She has always been interested in healthcare, and used to believe she'd end up in a Pre-Medicine program to become a doctor. However, like many other Pre-Nursing students here at Texas Tech, Elizabeth was inspired to become a nurse by her mom, who left the military to pursue a career in nursing.
Elizabeth was recently accepted to Texas Tech University Health Science Center's School of Nursing (the Lubbock campus) and she's also the current President of the Texas Tech Pre-Nursing Association. We sat down with her to ask her some questions about the Pre-Nursing Association and how they help Texas Tech's Pre-Nursing students. Our conversation included a discussion of how student organizations can more effectively accomplish their goals, including the successful transition between officers and providing opportunities for members to interact with each other.
From left to right, starting at the top: Mackenzie Cuellar, Elizabeth Webb, Bree Cornett, Macy Villenueve, Kendal Barker, Madison Coleman, and Dylan Rich!
PPHC: Let's talk a little bit about the Pre-Nursing Association. Tell me a little bit about your organization.
E: So Pre-Nursing is a great organization for students in the Pre-Nursing designation, obviously. It's a great way to meet your fellow classmates, your fellow potential nursing friends. It's a great way to get involved with the community. We do volunteer points every month. It's a great way to meet people with our social points. Unfortunately, everything's been on Zoom, so you kind of have to meet people through a camera, but hopefully in the coming semesters we'll get back to being in-person. And it's just a great way to get advice on the curriculum, the classes, the teachers, the application and interview process for the actual nursing school. I had a lot of help from this group of people wanting to help each other with my interview a few months ago. It's a great way to find advice but also friends and ways to help the community.
PPHC: People who have graduated and moved on are still part of the organization?
E: Exactly. They're still on the Facebook page. They might not be active members, so I guess I shouldn't say 4,000, but definitely in our community they stay active, giving advice, selling old books, old scrubs, and so it's definitely a community and a networking tool.
PPHC: Do you often or ever hear from some of these people who've gone on to nursing school and become nurses? Do they ever seem to be giving advice to the younger generation?
E: Yes, that's something that actually happened at our January meeting. We had two current nurses come and talk to us and do a Q&A. One of them was actually my mom, and then another was a girl that had graduated from the Texas Tech Nursing School I think two semesters ago. She was able to give us a really fresh perspective on what the hiring process looks like and her experience with the Texas Tech Nursing school. So that was awesome!
PPHC: What would you say your goals and hopes for the organization are?
E: A big goal is just to help everybody get into the Texas Tech nursing school. It's extremely competitive, especially the Lubbock campus, because everybody wants to stay here. But I guess the goal would just be to give everybody a space where they feel welcome and give advice or help whenever it's needed. Also, providing a space to mentor the younger Pre-Nursing students. I'm about to go to nursing school now so I've been through all the prereqs, and so being able to give advice on teachers and electives has been really rewarding. I like that aspect of the group.
PPHC: Do you get any students in your organization who don't want to go to Texas Tech's nursing school?
E: So we do have a few students who are interested in UT Tyler, because it has really similar prereqs. It's all about your prereqs and how similar they are. I know that I was interested in applying to a school in Colorado as a backup.
Definitely any school that has similar prereqs [is popular among Pre-Nursing students] and we do see questions on the Facebook asking for nursing schools that are similar to the nursing school here.
PPHC: With nursing being a 2+2 program here, there's got to be a lot of turnover in the PNA.
E: Exactly. We try our best to make those office transitions very smooth. But like you said, it's very quick turnover, and all of our officers are typically underclassmen, who have maybe been in the club for one or two semesters. For example, this semester we tried to set up the officers so that there would be some consistency from one group to the next. It can get really frustrating but we try our best to have the easiest and smoothest transitions.
PPHC: What does it take to become an officer in your organization?
E: So we hold officer elections every semester to replace the ones who are moving away or going to nursing school. And it's really just that you have to be an active member and there's an application that you have to fill out. From there, we pick a few to interview and then choose our officers. But this past semester, actually, because of COVID, we decided to waive the active-member part because – it was just that if you were missing one or two points, we'd waive it. But it was really hard last semester to get a bunch of people their points, because of timing and miscommunication. This semester we're going to be a lot more organized and I'm excited!
PPHC: What are some things that your organization is currently working on? Do you have any projects in progress?
E: We are in the process of getting back on TechConnect, like I said earlier. We're almost there! Also, our volunteer and social points this month are really exciting. I'm really proud of them. My treasurer, Dylan, he had the idea for the social point to be supporting local businesses. So, they just have to go support a local business and send a picture of the receipt to an officer. It's COVID-friendly because you're not with a group, you're not socializing at Starbucks or something. It's work-friendly because it's not a synchronous-type thing like we did last month. It's more asynchronous, so if you have a heavy work schedule, heavy class schedule, you can go do that. And it's also distance-friendly. We have a few students who are back home for the semester because of COVID, and they can just support a local business back home. And the volunteering is a Salvation Army drop-off event, so I'm very excited for both of those.
PPHC: It sounds like your organization is making a comeback. Especially since all the confusion that's happened this last semester.
E: Right. There was a lot of confusion, but I'm happy and proud that we're back on track.
PPHC: My last question is about what this last year has been about: COVID. How has COVID affected you guys? How have you worked around that, and how do you see things going forward?
E: So with spring of 2020, we weren't prepared to be sent home and Zoom was pretty new back then, so we decided to just make everybody an active member back in spring of 2020, and then we got the ball rolling again for fall 2020. Unfortunately, everything has been on Zoom or a drop-off kind of scenario where there isn't much interaction, which we definitely miss. During our meetings, it was a great way to meet people – we would have pizza and drinks for everybody, but obviously with COVID we can't do that. I'm really excited for the coming semesters and hopefully we can get back to being in-person and having our social events in person, getting to have that social interaction again.
PPHC: Are there any other organizations on campus that you know of that would be of interest or of use to Pre-Nursing students?
E: Yeah! So I was actually involved in HOSA my freshman year here, only for one semester and then with COVID we got sent away and I was just too focused on PNA. But there were a lot of volunteer opportunities and I remember they were planning a summer program. I really enjoyed HOSA while I was in it so I would definitely recommend that one.
United Future Leaders is a great volunteer opportunity here at Texas Tech. It's students going to the elementary schools and helping out with leadership activities, and I just had a lot of fun with the kids. And it was a great opportunity to give back to the community.
PPHC: Is there anything else you want to add about your experiences in the pre-health path you're on right now?
E: I would just say have faith. You're doing all the hard work and it will pay off. It seems like nursing school is so far away, but it feels like a month ago I was a freshman. I would say just enjoy it and get involved and have faith in your hard work. That's really what the nursing school is looking for – hard workers that are going to be committed and dedicated to the program.