When Victoria Walton ’21, was contemplating what type of career she wanted to pursue almost 25 years ago, nursing was always in the back of her mind. But because she was more familiar with law, having already worked as a paralegal, she opted for law school.
“I knew what being a lawyer looked like,” said Walton. “I had no idea what being a nurse looked like. I just didn’t know much about it.”
Now, after working as an attorney for almost two decades, the mother of identical twin boys, and stepmother to four stepdaughters, wants to find out what being a nurse looks like. This semester she started Regis College’s accelerated bachelor of science in nursing program designed for career changers and non-nurse college graduates.
Walton pointed out there is a high burnout rate for attorneys. And while many enter the profession because they want to help people, the day-to-day grind, especially in litigation where Walton spent most of her career, can be too much. Among the numerous inspirations Walton drew on to make the leap to nursing was the team that cared for her boys after they were born premature.
“The nurses were just so incredible, they took such good care of us and that has stuck with me all these years,” explained Walton. “It’s really amazing to be able to touch somebody’s life like that, and in a way I could never have done as a lawyer.”
For fellow ABSN first-year student Yvette Bonin ’21, the switch to nursing won’t be too much of a change. She has worked for the cardiology departments at Lawrence General Hospital, Tufts Floating Hospital, and Winchester Hospital, doing everything from echocardiograms to cardiac rehab to stress tests. And while she has a master’s in clinical exercise physiology, Bonin said she feels she can do even more as a nurse.
“I do have the clinical background, but my hands are always a little bit tied in terms of what I want to do,” Bonin said. “At the end of the day I want to be able to say I made someone’s life a little better. All this time I have been working alongside nurses and I’ve regretted not becoming one myself.”
Bonin hopes this career change will also be a stepping stone for more opportunities to do relief work in places around the world either impacted by natural disasters or that lack a health care infrastructure. She said she is very interested in getting involved with the Regis Haiti Project.
When it was time to pick which accelerated program to apply for, both Walton and Bonin reached out to family, friends, and colleagues in the health care field, and Regis’ ABSN program was at the top of their lists.
“At Lawrence General we do take some students from Regis for clinical work and I’ve always found them to be much better prepared,” Bonin said “I feel they were always a notch above the rest.”
Regis College is nationally renowned for the Richard and Sheila Young School of Nursing, a designated Center of Excellence in Nursing Education. Each year, Regis adds more than 600 new nurses to America’s healthcare workforce. The ABSN program gives students the chance to receive their nursing degree in just 16 months.
A career change at any time can be a stressful endeavor. And changing to a profession on the front lines of the ongoing pandemic can make it that much more nerve-wracking. But neither Bonin nor Walton have given their choice a second thought.
“I’d be a fool not to be a little concerned but to me, nurses run toward the action, not away from it,” Walton said. “To me, that is a nurse’s mindset.”