Continuing Service: Navy veteran begins role as VA Medical Center nurse
November 1, 2020
Michael Edwards, who earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Stritch in May 2020, was recently featured in a CBS 58 Veterans Day story. He was hired as an acute care nurse at the Milwaukee VA Medical Center in September.
Edwards enrolled at Stritch after completing five years of service in the U.S. Navy, during which he was stationed at the Naval Station Great Lakes, located in North Chicago. He had earned an associate degree from Columbia College in Missouri prior to enrolling at Stritch.
"I actually visited campus after I had been admitted," shared Edwards. "My visit affirmed my choice that Stritch was the place for me. I had the opportunity to learn how nurses work in different environments, and I was able to apply my Navy experience to my clinicals."
Edwards believes Stritch's Franciscan values help put things in perspective in the nursing program.
"Patients are more than a name; we learned about spiritual care for patients and families," he reflected. "Spirituality plays a big role in health care and this was reinforced in every class at Stritch."
During his time at Stritch, the Queens, N.Y., native was active in the Multicultural Student Nurses Association and completed internships, as well as clinical assignments.
"Michael’s experiences in the U.S. Navy will allow him to instantly have a connection with his patients," said Dr. Michelle Zautner, the associate dean in the Ruth S. Coleman College of Nursing and Health Sciences who served as Edwards' clinical faculty. "The bond between service members is a tight one and he will undoubtedly be able to leverage that in his work. He will be able to understand the struggles and unique needs our veterans have more intimately, and this will allow him to meet not only their physical needs but their emotional ones as well."
Edwards connected with Milwaukee-based Heroes for Healthcare shortly after he graduated from Stritch. The organization, which serves as a resource for military veterans during their transition to civilian life to achieve gainful employment in healthcare, covered the expenses of Edwards' NCLEX fee and two sets of scrubs.
"The Heroes for Healthcare staff was very friendly and helpful," said Edwards. "Many positions require you to have passed the NCLEX before you can even apply. Being able to focus on the test preparation instead of how I was going to pay for the test was a big relief. I am so appreciative of their support."
"Michael was preparing for the NCLEX exam when he responded to my email requesting documents to confirm his veteran status and completion of Cardinal Stritch University nursing program," said Joyce Mallory, Heroes for Healthcare Community Engagement Manager. "Michael was respectful, friendly and was determined to ace the NCLEX on his first attempt. When I met him in person, I was immediately impressed. I am confident with his BSN degree and military experience as a Navy corpsman, Michael will excel in his role as an RN at the Milwaukee VA Medical Center."
"I want to send a shout-out to my classmates and professors," said Edwards. "Nursing school is a team effort – I couldn’t have done it without them. My experience really solidified why coming to Stritch was the right decision."