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Athletes Going "Pro" in Nursing

Two college athletes who chose nursing as a profession

Daily rigorous training, physical and mental toughness, unyielding dedication: Ask any college athlete, and you’ll hear these are necessary to excel. And if you want to be a great athlete, you must also be willing to put the team ahead of personal glory.

Some say the same is true if you want to be a great nurse.

That work ethic is fortifying two RUSH University College of Nursing students in particular, who are transitioning from athletics to nursing. Rosa Powell and Trisha Carr, both in graduate nursing programs at RUSH, are applying what made them successful on the court or field as they pursue a career in nursing.

Rosa Powell, Class of ’18

From the gate, Powell, a former basketball player at Erskine College in Due West, South Carolina, says she felt well prepared for the rigors of the General Entry Master’s Program at RUSH.

In high-level sports, she says, “You must learn to work diligently and patiently with a variety of individuals, all of whom have different thoughts and processes, but ultimately have the same goal.” She adds: “The same goes for nursing. You work with a cohort of different medical professionals in order to provide the best care for a patient.”

Powell knows about working hard. In high school, she played point guard on the court. But in college, the coach asked her to become a shooting guard. Her response was to train harder and make the best of a new role. By the time Powell was a sophomore at Erskine, she had racked up a career-high 21 points in a game. Another highlight: She sunk five 3-pointers in a single game.

Powell is keenly aware of the demands of nursing — long hours, daily changes in work assignments, and going above and beyond to care for patients.

“Just like with basketball, when you begin with 5 a.m. conditioning workouts, you learn to push through and thrive. When you get tired and think there is nothing left in the tank, you continue to push and dig, because in the end you ultimately want to make yourself better,” she says.

Powell knows mental toughness is as important as physical toughness when it comes to being a professional nurse, especially when dealing with seriously ill patients.

“I will have to learn to push through the long hours of studying and clinical demands,” she says. “Because once I make it to the floor as a nurse, I must be in the best frame of mind.” She gives an example: “With some patients it will be more of a struggle to make them feel better, but as a health care professional, you can make them feel better by letting them know you will not give up on them.”

Barukh Brian Schwadron, Class of ’18

Some view rugby as a dangerous sport. But Barukh Schwadron found much more than a physical challenge throughout his 12-year career as a rugby player.

After participating in wrestling and jiujitsu, Schwadron tried rugby, and it was a perfect fit.

“As I got to experience more of the sport — the teamwork, generosity, outrageousness and determination to keep fighting — it became a lifelong passion,” Schwadron says.

He played rugby at the University of Michigan in the position of “hooker.” This complicated role involves many specialized skills, but most important is quickly anticipating what to do next with the ball.

“Split-second decision-making and moving people around efficiently is a powerful skill in both rugby and nursing,” Schwadron says. “The difference is in rugby, they end up on the ground. In nursing they don't!”

How did his interest in one of the most physical contact sports lead to nursing? “I served as a medic for my rugby teams over the years and loved the opportunity to help such diverse people and problems,” he says. “I’ve always been passionate about healing, so when deciding on a career, nursing was a way to bring my diverse background to help those in need.”

One of the highlights of Schwadron’s rugby career was playing with the team in Mombasa, Kenya. “Ranked second to last, we pulled an enormous upset over the best team in the country. I made it on the front page of the Mombasa newspaper,” he says.

Hard work, long hours and intense situations are all part of a nurse’s job, and Schwadron is prepared. “Rugby keeps me in incredible physical shape and has shown me how hard I can work, even when tired,” he says. “It also has also shown me the power of collaboration, generosity and hospitality, which will be an asset to my career as a nurse.”

Trisha Carr, Class of ’18

Among the biggest wins for Trisha Carr, a former soccer player at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, was the 2012 season when her Division III team made it to the National Collegiate Athletic Association Final Four playoffs.

Carr’s takeaway from that experience is pure and simple: “Everyone has their role on the field,” she says. “If one person isn’t giving their all, the whole team suffers.”

Carr doesn’t dwell on her college feats today. She now has a bigger goal in mind: graduating from the General Entry Master’s Program at RUSH University College of Nursing.

She takes pride in being challenged and is confident that her history of hard-earned endurance and perseverance on the soccer field will help her push through and excel in those nursing classes.

Carr was motivated to pursue nursing by a personal experience.

“My younger sister has an autoimmune deficiency,” she says. “I saw a lot of her frustrations … as well has her praises for the health care she received. My sister motivated me to become part of the solution to the problems of patients. She grew my desire to experience the joy of patient relationships, as well as positive outcomes.”