ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: Confidence Abound
It didn’t take long for Katie Jo Rankin to realize that the benefits of earning her nursing degree from the University of Iowa would extend well beyond a top-notch education and leading-edge preparation.
As she applied for jobs—and eventually post-graduate programs—across the country, it quickly became evident that her BSN also came with a renowned reputation for excellence that would open more doors than she ever imagined.
Rankin recently took time to talk about her experience at Iowa, her current area of practice, as well as future plans to advance her education even further.
When (and why) did you decide to enter the nursing profession?
It was during my freshman year at the University of Iowa. I always knew I wanted to do something in the medical field and after job shadowing, I realized nursing would be a great career path with a lot of options.
Why did you choose the University of Iowa for your education?
I chose UI because of the well-known medical and health science programs. After visiting the university, I knew that it would be a good fit for me with many opportunities.
What do you remember most about your time as a UI College of Nursing student?
All of the awesome people I met as an undergraduate at the university (BSN ’10). As a nursing student, I learned quickly how to prioritize my time as well as the importance of balancing different aspects of my life. I made some life-long friends, met my husband … all while attending a very reputable nursing school that would provide a great foundation for my future goals.
Was there a particular class or instructor that stood out?
My senior year I did a CRNA Independent Study taught by Dr. Cormac O’Sullivan. It was a great experience that gave me a firsthand look at the career of a nurse anesthetist. This course is what motivated me to become a CRNA.
Have you always known what you wanted to do with your degree?
Even upon acceptance into the BSN program, I knew that I eventually wanted to pursue a master’s degree; however, I did not know exactly what area of nursing would pique my interest. The aforementioned CRNA independent study is what solidified my direction in nursing.
My clinical experiences have guided me in terms of what I wanted to do in nursing. I learned quickly that I liked some areas of clinical work more than others. Externships at UIHC and Northwestern Hospital in Chicago also helped me determine the direction I wanted to go in.
How did your educational experiences at UI enhance your preparations for entering the profession?
I learned my nursing skills in a level-1 trauma, magnet recognized, teaching hospital, which gave me great confidence that I was learning from the best. This clinical foundation, combined with my 225-hour senior internship, remarkably prepared me for success in the profession.
What role (if any) did your educational background play in where you are today?
Everywhere I’ve interviewed, UI’s College of Nursing has been regarded as one of the best undergraduate nursing schools in the country. For example, my first job interview was for the ICU at Loyola Hospital in Chicago. A few weeks after I started, my manager mentioned that she had chosen to interview me simply because I was a graduate from the University of Iowa.
About two years later, I flew to the East Coast for a CRNA school interview and was again complimented on graduating from such a highly regarded undergraduate program. I would like to think I am just a great interviewer, but I have the University of Iowa’s reputation and preparation to thank for opening so many doors!
How are you involved in nursing today?
I have been a MICU nurse since I have graduated in 2010. Upon completing the necessary hours in the ICU I achieved my CCRN certification. With regards to the nursing community as a whole, I continue to be a member of AACN.
What words of advice would you give to current or future nursing students?
Take the opportunities offered to you—do those summer externships, independent studies, and work as a nursing assistant. If you are not sure what field of nursing you want to go into, this is a really a great way to realize your interests and strengths. These experiences, combined with a University of Iowa degree, will make you a highly sought after employee.
What’s next for Katie Jo Rankin?
I will be starting my Doctorate of Nurse Anesthesia program in May and I’m excited to see where my career takes me!
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