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The journey to the College of Nursing

Sep 19, 2022
5 min Read
Alexandra McDermott

A Traveler’s New Journey: Going to Nursing School

Alexandra McDermott, BA’22, pictured above, has had an experience at Creighton unlike most students.

Through her experience in the Global Scholars Program, she traveled to Australia, New Zealand, the Dominican Republic and Cuba, during her undergraduate studies. In May, McDermott graduated with a major in medical anthropology.

Now, she’s about to start a new journey. This fall, McDermott returns to Creighton enrolled in the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program.  

McDermott has been interested in nursing and the medical field for years. This interest comes, in part, from hearing about the work of her dad, Michael McDermott, BA’83, MD’90, an orthopedic surgeon in Santa Rosa, California. Following discernment and reflection, she decided to pursue a career in nursing.  

“I have chosen nursing because not only can I personally care for my patients, but I can strive to improve their quality of care,” she says. “I want to be an advocate for my patients in their time of vulnerability. I truly believe that the nursing profession is my God-given purpose.”

The 12-month ABSN program at Creighton gave McDermott the ideal opportunity to accomplish both dreams, complete the Global Scholars Program and pursue a nursing degree.

“When I learned of the ABSN program, I knew that it would be a perfect fit for my Global Scholars experience and support my new goal of attending nursing school.”

McDermott has engaged with people from around the globe through her participation in the Global Scholars Program. Founded four years ago by Creighton President the Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ, PhD, the program provides students four global study and service experiences during their four years in college. The first cohort graduated this year.

When I learned of the ABSN program, I knew that it would be a perfect fit for my Global Scholars experience.
— Alexandra McDermott, BA'22

McDermott says it opened her eyes to diverse cultures and people.

“My time abroad inspired my studies in medical anthropology,” she says. “I want to apply my knowledge of medical anthropology now to be inclusive, apply a holistic approach and see every patient through a broad cultural lens.”

McDermott took an indigenous history course in Australia and worked at a nursing home in the Dominican Republic, two experiences that taught her about healthcare and even further inspired her interest in nursing.

McDermott is passionate about women’s and infant health and hopes to address factors contributing to infant mortality in her future nursing career.

“During my time at Creighton and abroad,” she says, “I learned how women’s health and cultural, ethnic and lower socioeconomic issues contribute to a lack of prenatal care and increase the likelihood of prematurity and infant mortality.”

She plans on becoming a NICU nurse, advocating for infants and mothers, but is leaving herself open to other specialties. McDermott is excited to learn more during the clinical experience. She also is interested in incorporating travel into her career and helping people of diverse populations, incomes and accessibility to resources.

DNP Program Gave This Nurse Skills She Didn’t Find Elsewhere

When she came to Creighton, Kelli Saucerman-Howard, DNP’21, RN, got more. More skills. More courses. More attention. More experience. More knowledge.

Saucerman-Howard is the vice president of patient care services at CHI Health Creighton University Medical Center – Bergan Mercy, a role she has held since 2019. 

Kelli Saucerman-Howard

Before she took her current position, she was enrolled in a DNP program at another institution. But as she interviewed for the job, she learned more about Creighton and its DNP program.

After speaking with Catherine Todero, PhD, BSN’72, RN, FAAN, dean of the College of Nursing and vice provost of Health Sciences Campuses, she decided to transfer and finish her studies at Creighton. That decision meant taking a bit longer before she’d graduate, but she thought it was worth it.

Saucerman-Howard found a lot to love at Creighton.

She appreciated Creighton’s core values and faith-based mission. She loved the individualized attention from faculty. She also found Creighton’s program to be rigorous, which she appreciated.

“I wasn’t getting my doctorate to check a box. If I was going to do this, I wanted to be invested in the learning experience,” she says. “I appreciate the difference between doctoral programs, and it was important to experience that academic rigor and the diversity of the program.”

Creighton’s program had a greater offering of courses, and she learned things she hadn’t experienced in previous coursework. It allowed her to choose from courses that she knew would expand her knowledge.  

In particular, she was exposed to courses in conflict management, which were not a part of her previous university’s curriculum.  

Creighton lives up to its reputation.
— Kelli Saucerman-Howard, DNP’21, RN

“These courses were relevant to hospital operations and honed my conflict management and resolution skills,” she says.

She was particularly appreciative of the individual attention from her instructors, whom she found to be extremely knowledgeable, easy to approach and invested in their students’ success.

After being in multiple DNP programs and finding her home at Creighton, Saucerman-Howard has a bit of advice for those seeking the same path.  

“I tell people considering going back to school to consider their options. Go to the program that has the track you’re interested in. Mine was administration and leadership, so Creighton absolutely fell in line for me,” she says. “You should really find a place that gives you a good learning experience.

“Pursuing a degree is a financial investment in your future and professional development, so you really want to be able to gain knowledge and practical application from the program.”

Prior to attending Creighton, Saucerman-Howard had been employed in leadership positions, and that’s why she was interested in Creighton’s Nursing Administration and Leadership DNP track, which prepares nurses as innovative and collaborative leaders in diverse healthcare settings, where they can improve the quality of healthcare. She was also appreciative that Creighton faculty tailored her learning to her level of work experience.

“They were great to allow me to branch out,” she says. “In the DNP program, I was able to use current research to identify and address organizational change and performance improvement opportunities.”

Saucerman-Howard did so well in the program that the College of Nursing invited her back to teach courses at the University a few months after graduating.