Ensuring Success for Tomorrow’s Nurses

The VCU School of Nursing is committed to providing the resources and opportunities to ensure every student can be their best. From one-on-one guidance with the school’s academic coach, to thoughtfully matched mentors and individualized advice on research or career goals, the school crafts an educational experience and provides the right supports so VCU nursing students are prepared to be leaders in the field.

Nursing school has helped me to be resilient.

Janelisse Irizarry Rivera, VCU School of Nursing, Class of 2024

“Our students work so hard, and our faculty are committed to providing learning experiences in a wide variety of ways to meet the learning needs of everyone,” said Jean Giddens, Ph.D., dean of the VCU School of Nursing. 

The school’s Student Success fund is a critical resource in providing the right tools so students can make the most of their educational experience.

“[The faculty] really want you to keep learning and developing so that you can be the best nurse, the best nurse practitioner… whatever your ultimate goal is they want you to be the best of that,” said Grace Nowadly, a member of the school’s class of 2023.

vcu school of nursing lab class
VCU School of Nursing lab class
Photo: Tyler Trumbo, MCV Foundation

A newly created position called a student success coach, funded through contributions to the Student Success fund, ensures that students have an identified partner who can connect them to the help or opportunities they need. Lindsay Tierney, Ed.D., the school’s inaugural hire for the role, provides academic support, study tips, test-taking advice, troubleshooting sessions and, maybe most important of all, encouragement. Her approach is holistic, knowing that the rigor of nursing education and real life sometimes are at odds.

“Often our students have jobs and family, and then children in some cases,” Dr. Tierney said. “I do a lot to help navigate those demands.”

For students like Janelisse Irizarry Rivera, a first-generation student and member of the class of 2024, one-on-one counsel and a chance to talk it through with a knowledgeable partner is invaluable.

“It’s hard to navigate through a lot of firsts,” she said. “It can be clouded with many decisions, many things to go through. And knowing that the School of Nursing has those things provided for me — that help — is part of why I’m able to be here and continue my learning.”

The Student Success fund also supports the school’s fellows program that pairs students with nursing leaders for mentoring as well as research-based experiential learning opportunities that enhance what students learn in the classroom. “When I came in, I basically had no idea if nurses did research, if they could do research,” Nowadly said. “They really help you explore what you’re interested in. They even know what kind of questions to ask you that you may not have though to ask yourself.”

Exposing students to future career possibilities and pathways helps students like Rivera and Nowadly, envision their next step with greater focus.

“This school has shown me that nurses need to be leaders,” Nowadly said. “They need to be leaders for individual patients, for their units. Having nurses and professors and instructors who can show you what that means makes it all worth it.”

“Nursing school has helped me to be resilient,” Rivera said. “I now know that I am capable of doing hard things to get through challenges in life.”

If you are interested in contributing to the success of future care providers and researchers at the VCU School of Nursing, contact Pam Lowe, senior director of development at the school, at 804-827-0020 or plowe@vcu.edu. You may also give online to support the Nursing Student Success Fund.