Coated in Success

By Decerry Donato

Many students at UC Irvine enter the campus as freshmen, longing for the day when they cross the stage in their cap and gown. Nursing majors like third-year Brian Chen long for something quite different.

The nursing program here at UCI is fairly new and to some students, seemingly non-existent due to the small percentage of those who are nursing majors. This miniscule number of students is due to the highly competitive nature of the program, with some students eventually dropping out because of the challenging obstacles nursing produces.

brian chen

Courtesy of Decerry Donato

“Nursing majors are even exempt from Bio 93, but regardless, we still dive into upper division courses,” Chen said.

Despite being exempted from Bio 93, one of the tougher biology courses offered at UC Irvine, nursing majors like Chen have to overcome a great deal more.

Becoming a nursing major is an intensive process due to the classes and requirements needed to obtain the white coat. In order to begin the hands-on learning process known as clinicals, one must overcome the pressures of the first two years of demanding courses.

“[The white coat] signifies you have finished nursing school, and it is a relief to have finished one part but now we are entering the hardest part,” Chen said.

For many college students, graduating and receiving their B.A. is the first step to obtaining their lifelong career. In some ways, the White Coat Ceremony serves as that benchmark. The anticipation of this ceremony caused Chen plenty of stress and nervousness.

“There is a lot of pressure not to fail, not technically to get good grades,” Chen said. “Most of us are just trying to survive.”

Like most of us, the pressures and burdens of succeeding at a top tier university are already stressful, not to mention the looming debt that sits on our shoulders after we graduate.

Those who make it to the end of their second year are invited to the White Coat Ceremony to be acknowledged for all their hard work and to celebrate the continuation of their journey to becoming a nurse.

Instead of donning a cap and gown, Chen was granted his white coat a few days ago. A white coat is given to all undergraduate students who endure their first two years taking biology and chemistry classes. After two years of lecture-style learning, the information retained will now help Chen during his clinicals.

Clinicals typically consist of taking vitals, checking temperatures and anything else you may receive during the duration of a doctor’s appointment.

“I never felt like a nursing major,” Chen said after being asked about how he felt being in a lecture hall as opposed to those who are on the floor running clinicals.

Aside from his studies, Chen juggles many different extracurricular activities such as volunteering for HOAG, participating in this year’s Soulstice committee, a coordinator for CAMPmed, a freshman housing programmer, volunteering at CHOC (Children’s Hospital of Orange County) and bringing his enthusiasm to anyone who tours UCI’s campus as a campus representative. Being a nursing major is a lot of work and his interest in other facets of campus life provides insight into his work ethic and personality.

It is evident that the time and work needed to become a nurse is long and tedious. Despite the obstacles that a nursing student may face, Chen’s passion has driven him to look beyond those and focus on his future. With his love of San Francisco’s breezy weather and up-beat culture, Chen sees himself helping others in Northern California. As thrilled as he is to have received his white coat, Chen is much more excited to start clinicals and have the opportunity to improve the lives of others.