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Student Spotlight

January 2013 Stellar Student - Dan Mulrain: Receiving More Than You Give

Imagine growing up and living with a nurse who tells stories about helping people, advocating for their health, problem solving with them and learning from others by helping them through a crisis. Someone who speaks about the joys of nursing every single day and states she wouldn’t want to be anything but a nurse! This is the remarkable story of Daniel Mulrain, a senior nursing student at Wisconsin Lutheran College of Nursing in Milwaukee. The someone is Dan’s mother, Deb Mulrain.

She is the how and why Dan became intrigued with nursing. Living in Tomah Wisconsin, Dan thinks of himself as a small town guy. He found a small town kind of setting at Wisconsin Lutheran College of Nursing.

Here, Dan is one of 18 nursing students, 4 of which are male. Although a smaller nursing school, Dan has been exposed to many mentors. Through his clinical rotations and work experience in the VA system, Dan has had the opportunity to shadow male RNs in bedside and supervisory positions. In caring for veterans, Dan has benefited from building relationships just like his mother, to get to know and understand people.  

Getting to know and understand people has become Dan’s motto. A global health course gave Dan the chance to travel to Zambia and the Dominican Republic. Dan beams with pride in speaking about the people of Zambia and others in his travels. “I remember going there with a set purpose, to assist with HPV screenings in the Dominican Republic and teach health in Zambia. I thought I was there to teach and help others. I was not expecting to learn so much from the people I helped. I gained a whole new perspective on what people can accomplish with few resources. I learned how important it is to be open to learning from others, to accept that you do not necessarily have more knowledge than others. I did not expect to receive more than I gave.”

As one result of his experiences, Dan knows that he assesses patients and families with an open mind. He knows he asks more non-medical questions to get to know and understand each person’s circumstances and thinks of ways to meet patients in their world. He makes every effort to keep the patient, not their illness in the forefront. 
Pursuing a degree in nursing has not been easy. Like other students, Dan finds nursing school to be filled with rigorous courses. Equally challenging is finding a way to balance college, work, and still maintain a healthy balance with life.  His advice to other students is to remember to “take time for you, take breaks from studying, find enjoyment in the outdoors, music, and reading to sustain yourself.” After graduation, Dan is considering pursuing either a Masters in Public Health, or in a role as a Family Nurse Practitioner.

Rebekah Carey, MSN, APNP, the chair of the School of Nursing and Assistant Professor at Wisconsin Lutheran College has been a strong influence for Dan. “She displays the values I want to demonstrate when I am a nurse. She has helped me to understand where patients are coming from, how to learn about their frustrations and respond with empathy not judgment.”  

Dan believes the future of nursing and the wellness of Americans lies in preventive health. He is aware of the current focus on treating illness and the unequal attention to preventive care. He sees the high costs of illness which fall on everyone. “We are all in this together; everyone pays the price of illness.  We all need to take better preventive care of each other, ourselves and our communities”. Working with community advocates, Dan has witnessed the influence of grass roots people in changing policies and health equity. A nursing job in the field of public health is his goal. “My mission is to return to a rural area and work side by side among people trying to improve the health of the community. I am eager to get started.“ ~ God speed, Dan.

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