Q&A with Laura Garcia ’21

Laura with her husband and children
Laura Garcia with her husband and children.

Where do you consider your hometown?

I grew up in Pulaski, WI, near Green Bay.

Where are you now, and how are you using your BSN degree?

I currently live in Jefferson, WI (right between Madison and Milwaukee), and I am a local travel nurse working on a medical-surgical unit at Mercy Walworth in Lake Geneva, WI. I have been traveling locally since January of 2023. Before that, I worked at Fort Memorial Hospital in Fort Atkinson, WI, on their med-surg unit and ICU (intensive care unit) since 2016.

Laura Garcia with her husband and children

What about the BSN@Home program appealed to you?

I live about 45 min. from Madison, and I am a working mom, so I liked the flexibility that the program gave me.

I only had to go on campus once and I could pick my clinical site that was close to home.

I also could choose which class to take which semester, and I could choose between taking two classes for the whole semester or choose to focus on one at a time for eight weeks.

What was the most valuable experience during your nursing education? Why?

I think the most valuable experience would be the clinicals, which allowed for hands-on skills with patients. It was one thing to study and learn from a book in the typical classroom, but the clinicals allowed me to take what I learned, apply it in real life, and actually see the effect it has on the patients.

It also allowed me to come out of my shell and work on my communication. I tend to be “book smart,” and the clinicals forced me to be able to communicate better with patients and other nurses through therapeutic listening or giving reports to my fellow nurses.

Laura and her husband.

What’s the most rewarding part of being a nurse?

The most rewarding part would have to be when you are able to follow the patient through their hospital stay — to see how they have improved enough to get discharged and know that you had a part in that.

Also being able to empathize with patients during their darkest, sickest times and forming that special bond with patients and family members.

What’s the biggest challenge facing nurses today?

There are many challenges, including burnout from COVID and low staffing, low morale, nurse bullying, and the gap between administration and floor nurses. I think many nurses get so caught up in the politics of hospital nursing that they forget their passion for caring for others, which is the whole reason they got into nursing to begin with.

Laura Garcia and her family in front of their Christmas tree.What advice would you give to individuals considering completing their BSN?

You won’t regret it. It adds to the knowledge that you already know and allows you to critically think more deeply when taking care of patients.

It’s totally doable with your work and family schedule. Do it now, take it at a slower pace if you need to, one class at a time, and try to apply what you are learning to the types of patients you have that week.

Having your BSN will allow you more opportunities in the future.

What advice would you give to recent alumni?

I would tell them that the learning never stops even though they are done with school. Keep learning new things about your unit, patients’ illnesses, evidence-based practice, etc.

Also, be patient with yourselves and take a shift at a time. Don’t expect to know everything at once. Find a unit that you enjoy and make friends.

If after a while you begin to have a negative attitude or become bored, find other things to learn or advance at, new skills, or cross-train to a different department.