Alumni Spotlight: Joshua VanZant

Name: Joshua VanZant

Company: United States Navy, Camp Lejeune, NC

Position: Division Officer, Level II NICU

Graduation Year: August 2014

Additional Education:
BA in History, Purdue University
Currently working on Masters in Nursing

Hometown: Mount Vernon, Indiana

Why did you become a nurse?

During my junior year at Purdue, I was involved with Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and we went to Haiti. I got to see a surgical team – about 30 people who flew down from Miami to Haiti – run a 24-hour clinic for three days. I had looked into non-profit management, but saw how impactful healthcare could be. My draw to it was the humanitarian aspect, and the Navy was a good option because they do the Mercy and Comfort missions around the world. In the future, my goal is to do international volunteering.

What is your fondest memory from nursing school?

I had great classmates. My class gelled really well together, and we shared a lot of good experiences. The day-to-day grind was made a lot easier by that. Aside from that, my capstone was at Eskenazi Health Trauma Center (in Indianapolis), and I experienced a lot there. I saw a lot that I will probably never get to see again.

What advice would you give to a new nurse? 

Find ways to respectfully affect change. Collectively as nurses, there's a lot of complaining. I think when every nurse reads that they'll laugh to themselves. But the reality is that complaining doesn't help anybody, and it really hurts the morale of the floors, your team and everything else. As younger nurses, we're newly educated; we're up to date on evidence-based practice; and the goal of nursing is to be change agents. So embrace that role to find a way to be respectful of those who have been in the profession longer and can nurse their way around you.

How did St. Elizabeth School of Nursing prepare you for your career?

This is where St. Elizabeth School of Nursing paid dividends. We did so many med-surg (medical-surgical) clinicals, and we did so many specialty clinicals. When I came in, I had workers on my floor who went to schools from every conference in the country. At St. Elizabeth School of Nursing, we had a much better curriculum, and I had a lot more clinical hours than others had. I probably had double the clinical hours compared to my peers.

What do you like most about your current position?

One, I like my patient population. I love neo-natal. It's not something most military nurses sign up to do, but we do make a huge difference. We keep parents from having to travel an hour and a half for their babies to be cared for in a NICU. 

From a leadership side, I like seeing how processes work. I get to see certain projects from start to finish, such as policy implementation, policy revision, best practice projects and staffing initiatives.

How do you see yourself through the lens of the school’s mission: Continuing Christ’s Healing Ministry?

Nurses embody the school’s mission on a daily basis after graduation. I'm a bedside nurse taking sick and broken people and bringing them back to (health). And then, hopefully in the outpatient world, promoting a more well-rounded conduct of health other than the absence of illness. We do a lot of education.

What do you do when you are not at work?

I just ran the Marine Corps Marathon, so I spend a lot of time exercising. My wife and I also try to go hiking quite a bit with our dogs.

Is there anything more you want to say regarding your St. Elizabeth School of Nursing experience?

It was rough. Looking back on it, we made it harder on ourselves than it had to be by not being positive. But, the process prepared us. I've been a nurse with people from all around the country, and I strongly believe, from a clinical aspect, we are prepared better than any other school that I’ve encountered.