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Before Nia Andrews ‘19 found her calling as a nurse, she got her degree in cell and molecular biology with an original goal of doing research or continuing on to medical school. After she graduated, she discovered that she wanted a more hands-on career to make a difference in health care.
“When I started digging in and doing some more research, I noticed that it was really the nurses who had more of that patient care interaction that I was looking for, that really healed the patient's soul almost.” Nia recalls. “The nurse goes in and has those interactions and those moments with the patient to truly just try and make them better on a physical standpoint, but also on a spiritual standpoint. And that was what I was always looking for.”
Her new-found realization brought her to GMercyU’s ABSN program, where she earned her BSN in less than two years. While at GMercyU, Nia found mentors in her nursing professors that extended outside of the classroom and also participated in the annual Domincian Republic Nursing mission trip.
After she completed her second degree, she faced a healthcare system battling COVID-19. Working in the Emergency Room at Virtua Health has had its ups and downs, but Nia has stayed positive.
“I can honestly say that I had a wonderful support system through my coworkers, my family, my friends, and some of my GMercyU professors,” said Andrews. “Professor Tucker and Professor Warnick reached out a couple of times and we've had some communication and they again were just a guiding light that helped me continue to believe in myself as well as offered some advice to continue to be a competent nurse.”
Outside of the ER, Nia keeps a busy schedule. As Miss Philadelphia 2017, Nia has a love for pageants and the Miss Philadelphia organization, in which she’s currently serving on the Executive Board for their Prince and Princess mentorship program. She’s an E-Board member for Alpha Kappa Alpha, the first historically black sorority, and works as a dance instructor in the community. And the cherry on top? She also started an all-inclusive activewear line called ExitoFit.
How does she do it all?
“Honestly, just tea and eating right, with sleep from time to time,” she laughs.
Here's more about Nia's experiences, in her own words...
“I came to a point where I was just like, ‘I kinda don't want to do the physician thing. I don't want to do the research thing.’ And I thought back to my little sister.
Me and my sister are 10 years apart and she was born premature. And to be honest, it didn't seem like she's going to make it. And I kind of didn't want to get attached to something that I didn't think was going to be here tomorrow. I honestly didn't even want to go to the hospital. She was in the NICU, hooked up to two tubes and the incubator, and it was kind of scary at 10 years old, but I had to go one day because my parents didn't have a babysitter.
It was a nurse who came out to me and said, ‘Hey, I know that this is scary. I know that this is different, but your sister needs you. She needs her sister to pour into her and to believe in her and to help her continue her fight.’ And after that, she just started gaining weight and doing better because I started coming all the time. Honestly, if it wasn't for that nurse talking to me, I don't know how the outcome would have gone, but she truly changed my life. And now my sister is my life. She's my world and she's doing fine. That nurse made me believe and that nurse helped educate me. And I want to be that nurse to someone else.”
“GMercyU equips you for the nursing field. Most of the people in my class passed the NCLEX on the first try. And I believe that GMercyU and the professors that I had during my time here heavily influenced my life and helped aid me into being a critical thinker that I needed to be during this pandemic. And I didn't think that when I was sitting in the classroom, I was going to utilize these skills I was learning during a pandemic. But I did. And I gained those skills at Gwynedd Mercy University.”
“I definitely think that people should consider a career in nursing because it is truly rewarding and you are directly connected to patients and a pivotal point in their care and helping them on their journey to whatever that outcome might be. But you are that pivotal point. It's so rewarding. Once you see someone who has benefited from your care, it's a feeling like no other. And I think if you're really into helping people and you love the nursing process and just seeing the different connections about how the human body works, you should definitely go into nursing. I also think that it is a humbling experience that makes you appreciate life and others around you.”
“I am working on my Certificate in Emergency Nursing (CEN). I thought that with the pandemic and everything, that maybe [ER nursing] is not for me, but now that I'm continuing to climb this hard learning curve, I do really like emergency nursing. I also really want to go into the media and I would love to be a nursing correspondent to educate others on how to live a healthier lifestyle or educate them on what's going on. Especially like during this time with COVID-19 it was so hard sometimes to maneuver fact from myth. And if there could be people who can tell you the truth, who can tell you the facts that you can then make the decisions for yourself and so that you can see what's going on and how you can live a healthier lifestyle. So that's something that I'd really love to do.”