From a young age, alumna Heather M. Bevan, MSN ‘20, RN, knew she wanted to join the nursing profession to make a difference in the world. Much of her motivation stemmed from an unfortunate experience a family member encountered in the healthcare system. “Witnessing the lack of compassion my loved one felt in their time of need was heartbreaking,” she explained. “I knew right then that I was called to dedicate my life to making a difference in the lives of others in whatever way possible.” Bevan graduated in May 2020 from Kent State University College of Nursing’s Pediatric Nurse Practitioner master’s concentration.

Bevan’s undergraduate studies prepared her with the clinical skills and knowledge necessary to become a culturally competent and professional nurse. “I have the privilege and responsibility of providing care, comfort and advocacy to the most vulnerable and fragile human beings and their families. As a former gerontologic nurse and pediatric float nurse, I have cared for babies smaller than my hand to elderly patients at the end of their lifespan,” she said. “I thoroughly enjoy promoting relationship-based care and providing education to patients and their families, as well as new nurses.”

However, Bevan’s greatest frustrations with her career were the limitations on what she could do for her patients regarding independent decision-making. “I knew that progressing into a more diagnostic and health management facet of the nursing profession would hone my critical thinking skills so I could better serve as an advocate for my patients and their families.”

Bevan sought the ability to provide primary, preventive or specialty care in a holistic, compassionate manner. “That kind of role affords me the opportunity to see the direct impact I make on the lives of my patients’ by delivering in-depth and comprehensive care. Our society needs experienced practitioners who focus on health maintenance and disease prevention, along with chronic disease management and prevention,” stressed Bevan. “These are things I am passionate about and becoming an APRN allows me to work towards achieving these outcomes. Having the ability to establish long-standing relationships was also a significant driving force for me.”

With two young children at home, being present in their lives was exceptionally important to Bevan. Thus, having a more predictable and flexible work schedule would give her the ability to be the mother she knew her children needed and deserved. Shortly after the birth of her second son, Bevan recalled the moment she decided to take her education to the next level. “Looking into the eyes of my new baby and fast-growing toddler, it was the strongest motivating force I had ever felt. I wanted to be a good role model for those two. I knew an advanced practice degree would allow me to provide the best life possible for my children. I wanted to set an example and show them they could accomplish anything their hearts desired, no matter what obstacles they may face.”

Drawn to Kent State University College of Nursing’s reputation and program flexibility, Bevan emphasized being able to work while in the program was absolutely imperative so she could continue to support her family. “The core MSN courses were all online and the pediatric courses were hybrid-format further facilitating my ability to support my family while working on my degree,” she said. “The proximity to campus was manageable in terms of commute.”

Bevan stressed how truly supported she felt by her program coordinator throughout the duration of her program. “It was evident she wanted all of us to be successful. She supported us in our clinical rotations and by creating exams that prepared us to sit for certification,” stated Bevan. “Clinical rotations immersed me in the role of a primary care nurse practitioner and my knowledge base grew dramatically. I enjoyed every minute of it!”

While it was challenging at times to manage both work and graduate school, Bevan attributed her success to being exceptionally organized. She found planning out her schedules for work, clinical, campus days and childcare months in advance helped her to stay on track. Seeing what the semester would look like in advance allowed Bevan to appropriately schedule adequate time for coursework, studying for exams and spending precious time with her family.

“Balance and flexibility are key components to being successful. You really need to know your limits and prioritize your responsibilities,” recalled Bevan. “I learned very quickly how much time I needed to complete assignments and study effectively and efficiently to maintain the grades and GPA I desired. It truly took a village!”

As a clinical nurse at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, Bevan has loved caring for, “those tiny, resilient human beings,” and has learned much about herself in the process. As a float nurse, Bevan explained she does not know her assigned floor until an hour or so prior to the start of her shift, which keeps her on her toes! “Being flexible and having the ability to adapt to a wide variety of patients, diagnoses, and cultures as well as learning to work well with diverse medical teams has helped me tremendously in graduate school,” remarked Bevan. “Likewise, my studies have helped me with my career. The relationship was harmonious, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”   

Four of Bevan’s colleagues also chose to obtain their advanced degrees from Kent State, and she is grateful this experience allowed them to grow closer, explaining they served as each other’s support system and study partners. “Having someone you know, who shares things in common with in your program is extremely helpful in being successful.”

Bevan sought to expand her knowledge and passion of nursing to have a positive impact on society. She hopes to continue to promote the nursing profession by one day having a role in shaping the healthcare system through research or healthcare policy efforts.

“My experience at Kent State University College of Nursing was wonderfully positive,” declared Bevan. “The instructors truly wanted to see me succeed. They set me up to achieve course outcomes and my own personal goals by supporting my growth as a student. By giving me the autonomy I needed to learn, I feel prepared for my current and future nursing roles.”