Who is Alexis Heal?
Alexis Heal is a nursing student from City College of San Francisco (CCSF) and San Francisco State University (SFSU), who has been recognized as the 2023 Nurse ICON Award winner of “Nursing Student to Watch” from Nurse.org. Her dedication as a student nurse has not gone unnoticed, with one of her nominators describing her as "outstanding" and someone who "goes above and beyond'' in all aspects of her studies. What makes this ICON Award truly special is that Alexis was nominated by her nursing community peers!
Alexis is pursuing her ADN and BSN degrees concurrently, demonstrating her unwavering commitment to nursing. In this article, we will delve into Alexis’ remarkable journey to becoming a “nursing student to watch”.
We interviewed Alexis about her experiences as a nursing student and on winning the coveted Nurse ICON Nursing Student to Watch award. Here is what she had to say.
Alexis’ Nursing School Pathway
When Alexis Heal set her sights on nursing school, she knew it would take a lot of hard work and dedication to achieve her goals. After taking the TEAS exam, Alexis says she began applying to different nursing programs, eager to take the next step in her education. But instead of waiting for a response, Alexis proactively took a phlebotomy course, continued expanding her skill set and knowledge base, and earned a phlebotomy technician (CPT1) certificate.
Fortunately, her determination paid off when she received her nursing school acceptance letter. Now Alexis is in the midst of an ADN-BSN collaborative nursing program between CCSF and SFSU. Her nursing program allows students to earn both an ADN and BSN in two and a half years of full-time study.
Alexis emphasized that she advocates for starting nursing school at a community college for its affordability and ideal student-to-teacher ratio. Alexis is starting her BSN portion of the program in the fall of 2023 and planning to graduate in the spring of 2024.
Looking to the future, Alexis plans to take the Next Generation NCLEX Exam this summer before starting on her BSN in the fall, determined to continue her education and make a positive impact in the field of nursing.
Alexis on Patient Care and Peer Friendships
Alexis says by far her favorite thing about nursing school is the patient care she can give her patients. One of Alexis’s inspirations came from a 2018 car accident that landed her in the emergency room at a local hospital. Although she says her experience with the ER nurse was poor, it solidified to Alexis that she would become the type of nurse she wished she had during that difficult time.
Alexis adds that she appreciates nursing school for her friendships with her peers. “We all support and encourage one another to help with success,” she added.
Alexis’s Greatest Challenges in Nursing School
Alexis says balancing school and personal life is a huge challenge for her. Completing two concurrent programs while working and trying to find free time has been a struggle throughout her nursing program.
She has valuable advice for other student nurses.
Early in her program, Alexis admits that she compared herself to other students, but it didn’t help her succeed. “I started to put myself down when I didn’t get a very good score on my exam and even thought, is nursing even for me?” But once Alexis stopped comparing herself to her peers and focused more on her success, she struggled less and now gets A’s in her courses.
Alexis adds that the course load on top of clinical rotations is surprisingly busy. “I knew nursing school wasn’t going to be easy, but I didn’t anticipate all the exams, quizzes, and care plans,” she says. “Within two years, I have learned a lot about how to perform safe patient care.”
What Receiving This Award Means To Alexis
What Alexis Wants Future Nursing Students to Know About Pursuing This Career
“Stay determined, be passionate about what you do, and always remember your patients are human. Never give up, no matter how hard it gets. Nursing school might make you want to give up, but you can do it! This is a very challenging career, but highly rewarding. Do not be afraid to try new skills or ask questions. The worst thing you can do is not ask and just guess. There will always be someone around you who can help you, you just need to step up and not be afraid to ask!” she says.
“As a future nurse, I know I don’t know everything. But, for the sake of my patients, I want to be able to deliver the best and safest care. Failing an exam or failing a class does not mean you aren’t meant to be a nurse. It means at that moment, it was not the right time for you, but try again and reach your goal. Always remember, you are a forever learner.”
What Alexis Would Tell Her Younger Self About Her Nursing Journey
“I wish I could tell myself that it is okay to take breaks, and you know more than you think. Your instinct is sometimes more powerful than what you learned from a textbook or lecture. You will be a lifelong learner, so do not take it personally when someone wants to teach you something different. As you gain more experience, you will be more confident in your nursing abilities. Savor every experience that comes in your path and learn from it.”
Advice for Future Nurses About Pursuing Travel Nursing?
After gaining nursing experience, Alexis says she looks forward to eventually moving into travel nursing.
Alexis’s Future Career Steps
Alexis says that upon earning her RN licensure, she is open to exploring a few different specialties. However, she wants to start on a med surg unit to build essential critical thinking skills and help her develop a broad knowledge base and skill set that can be applied in a variety of clinical settings throughout her career. After that, she sees herself moving into the emergency room, the intensive care unit, or the neonatal intensive care unit. She even wants to explore becoming a nurse influencer in some way where she can help guide and advise other nursing students on their journey to becoming nurses.
We are inspired by Alexis’s story and her unwavering pursuit of nursing excellence. It is clear that Alexis is a future leader in the field of nursing, and we cannot wait to see all that she will achieve in her career. To all future nursing students out there, take a page from Alexis’s book and stay determined, passionate, and always remember your patients are human. You too can make a positive impact in the field of nursing. Congratulations again, Alexis!