Chase Wagner

October 2011
Class of 2011


I believe this about nursing… “Nursing empowers individuals to enhance quality of life at the individual, familial, and community level.”

I decided to become a nurse so that I could positively affect the lives of patients and their families in the same way nurses have affected my family. I grew up and continue to grow in North County, San Diego, California. From the time I was a young child, I watched my father battle a variety of cardiovascular related illnesses. During his multiple hospital stays, or “getaways” as we sometimes jokingly described them, I spent a lot of time interacting with nurses. I was often impressed by their level of knowledge. Even more impressive was seeing a nurse effectively teach and communicate that knowledge to my family and other nurses. It’s incredible to see that knowledge translated into nursing interventions. Over time, I came to respect and admire the nurses that cared for my father because of their professionalism, compassion, and competence. I also started to realize the power these nurses had to impact the lives of patients and their families.

My father’s heart condition gradually deteriorated to the point where he needed a new heart. My father began regular multi-weekly appointments with a nurse practitioner to monitor and manage his heart’s function and to keep him as healthy as possible in the event a new heart became available to him. I knew the nurse practitioner he was working with was incredible when my mother raved about the level of treatment my father was receiving. I had no idea what a nurse practitioner was or what a nurse practitioner did at this time. My mother’s praise was validated when I was able to watch the nurse practitioner interact with my father. The depth of her participation in my father’s treatment and health management was truly remarkable. Everything she does and stands for inspires me to this day.

After graduating from USD in May 2008, I worked in a UCSD research lab on a study about adolescent drinking. My original goal was to get more research experience and enhance my knowledge and skills to make myself a stronger candidate for doctoral programs in clinical psychology. My career path changed when I began speaking with nurses and reflecting on my family’s experiences with nurses. I immediately decided that working as a nurse and then a nurse practitioner would be extremely fulfilling and meaningful. My experiences interning at a local hospital have supported my decision to pursue nursing.

I am extremely honored and grateful to be a 2011 recipient of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Scholarship for New Careers in Nursing. It has reduced my financial needs and permitted me to place even more focus towards my development as a nurse. I am excited about the future opportunity to contribute to my community as a nurse and “pay forward” the gifts that I have received.