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Heavy but rewarding load has kept nursing student hopping

Brittany MitchellBrittany Mitchell isn’t worried about the sleep she’s missed or her messy house.

That’s because her education has never been in better shape. Mitchell will graduate from Tidewater Community College with her Associate of Applied Science in Nursing on May 16 and from Old Dominion University with her bachelor’s in nursing in August. She completed classes in the two programs concurrently.

“So my life has been school for the last two years,” says Mitchell, president of the Student Nurses Association at TCC.

She’s also worked 30 to 35 hours per week as clinical coordinator at Medical Center Radiologists in Virginia Beach, but is good natured in saying, “Really, I don’t sleep.”

Mitchell’s progression into medicine is a circuitous one, as she earned her initial bachelor’s in psychology from Old Dominion in 2008. But real life appealed to her more than research and the daughter of a surgeon’s assistant realized where she belonged after volunteering with the Kempsville Rescue Squad in Virginia Beach. She began TCC’s nursing program in fall 2012.

“TCC is regionally and nationally accredited for nursing,” she says. “Being a military spouse – my husband has been in the Navy for eight years – I had to go somewhere nationally accredited in case we are stationed somewhere else.”

The rigorous program and dedicated instructors appealed to her, as did the simulation labs that allow students to respond to a variety of medical situations. TCC’s relationship with numerous area hospitals also impressed Mitchell.

“It’s allowed me to network, and I’m all about networking,” she says. “We do clinicals at a variety of hospitals, so I’ve been able to network with a bunch of hospitals, not just one.”

Brittany Mitchell in her own words

Despite her rigorous load, Mitchell is active within the college. She attended the Virginia Community College System leadership conference last fall and recently attended the National Student Nurses annual convention in Nashville. She was also part of the initial mentorship program the nursing school offers allowing current students to guide newcomers to the program.

“I love being in a leadership role that allows me to make a positive impact,” she says.

While her long-term goal is to be an emergency room nurse, Mitchell also talks of becoming a legislative nurse, noting, “There are so many issues out there in health care and politics that affect nurses. I want to make sure all nurses have a voice.”

Graduation for Mitchell will only lead to more school, as she’s exploring master’s programs at Johns Hopkins and Vanderbilt universities. “TCC gave me the opportunity to start, but in nursing, you have to keep going,” Mitchell says. “School never ends. TCC gave me a great beginning.”

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