Getting involved in extracurricular activities while in nursing school can help you expand your experience, make new friends and create professional connections.
Nelly Coto, BSN, RN and 2013 graduate from Chamberlain’s Houston campus, knows this firsthand. She was involved in a number of extracurricular activities and groups which positively impacted her growth as a student. “Getting involved was great,” said Coto. “It let me dive right in to all things nursing and really helped me immerse myself in what it meant to be a nurse.”
Below are a three reasons you should get involved, and how it helped prepare Nelly Coto to become the nurse she is today.
1. Make professional connections
Getting involved with groups like the National Student Nurse Association (NSNA) provides educational resources, leadership opportunities and career guidance. Participation in the national group includes membership at both the state and local levels. This connection to the NSNA’s expansive network of members offers students a great opportunity to make professional connections when embarking on their career after graduation.
Coto didn’t wait long to get involved once she started her education. “As soon as I learned about the NSNA and all the benefits they offered students, I knew immediately I wanted to sign up.” She discovered that NSNA also mentors the professional development of future registered nurses, provides discounts on school supplies and shares notifications on available nursing scholarships. “It really changes a student’s life.” she said.
2. Gain real-world experience
Getting involved in your community is a great way to make real-world connections when you’re just starting out in your career. It will also show prospective employers that you take initiative when it comes to your work — being ready to volunteer your services to help others.
As her nursing college experience progressed, Coto got involved with the Houston Department of Health and Human Services. She took part in a program where students interacted with people in the community who suffered from chronic health conditions.
“I helped a group of 15 women who each suffered from some type of diabetes,” said Coto. “We would meet with them and discuss steps they could take to not only improve their physical health, but their emotional and spiritual health as well.”
Coto credits her professors with sharing this option for getting involved in the community. “It’s very awesome that there is that opportunity to give back,” she said. “And my experiences with the department really helped to prepare me for the realities of nursing.”
3. Help future nurses
Volunteering to help with school activities will put you in touch with more of your fellow classmates and teachers, and can give you the chance to mentor future nurses who are faced with the same questions you once had.
During her time on campus, Coto volunteered for Chamberlain open house events. She met with prospective students and shared her first-hand experiences with them.
“I’d talk with them about how Chamberlain works,” said Coto. “Many questions focused on how the classes were and what it’s like to be in class for just eight weeks. It was great to be able to help other students figure out how to get started.”
Her campus experience behind her, Coto now works in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at The Woman’s Hospital of Texas. She said her extra involvement has positively impacted her foray into the real world. “My experiences taught me to be more outspoken, more confident and to believe in myself.”