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Student Spotlight

2015 Stellar Students - Matthew Hautala

Matthew Hautala is a nursing student at Columbia College of Nursing in Milwaukee. 

Why did you decide to pursue nursing?
I grew up in a medical family, my mother being an Advanced Practice Nurse Practitioner (APNP) and my stepfather being an emergency department physician.  With that being said, I never thought that I would also end up in a medical career.  After I graduated from high school, I attended Winona State University and was pursuing my degree in composite materials engineering.  During a job shadowing experience, it hit me that I was going to be miserable in this profession.  I am too much of a people person to be stuck in an office crunching numbers and working on machines.  So, I ultimately decided to take some time off of school and reevaluate my future.  This is when I moved to Waupaca, WI.  I was in dire need of a job, so I applied to work as a caregiver in a community-based residential facility, or assisted living.  During my employment there, I quickly realized that this type of work was very rewarding to me intrinsically, and an area where I could make a difference.  I continued to work as a Certified Nursing Assistant, and eventually was promoted to Activity Director and Assistant Administrator, but I was not as happy in those roles as I was no longer directly taking of patients.  This was when I decided to return to school for nursing.

What is your perspective about diversity in nursing?
Diversity is integral to nursing.  As a male, I am aware of the stigma that corresponds to men with nursing careers, but I have noticed that stigma being broken down on a daily basis.  If you think about it, our patients all come from diverse backgrounds, so having nurses that mirror these diverse populations can enhance the patient experience.  I think it is so important to have nurses that can connect to the patient populations they serve, and that are culturally competent.  This leads to better patient care, increased adherence to plans of care, and ultimately better outcomes.  I think that the diversity in nursing is expanding every day, and it is important to view everyone in the workforce as equals, as we are all working towards the same goals.

What advice can you give other students who are pursuing a nursing degree?
To those pursuing their nursing degrees...nursing school is difficult, but it is difficult for a reason.  After graduation, we are going to have the lives of others in our hands.  Critical thinking and early recognition of changes in our patients’ conditions are vital.  It is crucial that we have the proper assessment techniques, knowledge to recognize changes, and the skills to intervene in an appropriate and timely fashion.  Don't get discouraged when you get a bad grade or have a difficult time with a certain subject; stay positive and study harder.  There is an end in sight; it just might be hard to see when you get overwhelmed.  It is also important to have some "you" time.  Schedule out some time every week to do something you enjoy, go to a movie, out to dinner, read a book (not nursing related), take walks, and visit with friends.  Although your free time will be somewhat limited, the reward for all the hard work will all be worth it in the end!  You CAN do it!

Submitted by:
Juanita (Terrie) Garcia, MEd, RN
WCN Board of Directors
Project BEYOND-2 Coordinator - Marquette University College of Nursing

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