Big goals, no limits for SON athletes

Pursuing a rigorous degree like nursing is a very time-intensive challenge on its own, even without competing in a varsity-level sport. But here at UNC, three outstanding student athletes are following their dreams on the field and at the bedside.

Their stories prove that nothing is impossible. All it takes is a little grit—and some impressive time-management skills.

Any student athlete faces high demands from practice, competition and academics. And any nursing student must juggle challenging coursework and energy-intensive clinical rotations. Put the two together and it adds up to a great deal of work—and tremendous rewards.

“These are extraordinary students who have learned to handle a demanding training schedule for their sport and apply the same dedication to planning their clinical practice in nursing,” said Beverly Foster, Ph.D., R.N., associate professor and director of UNC’s undergraduate nursing program. “It is a delight to have them with us and to have them contribute to the diverse student body we so value.”

Serving their teams—and their patients

At first glance, athletics and nursing may seem to have little in common. But school administrators and students say many of the skills developed through athletics are valuable attributes for a successful nursing career.

“Development of leadership skills, self-discipline, motivation, persistence, attention to detail and skill mastery, team and collaborative behaviors—these are probably only a few of many similarities,” said Dr. Foster.

Although the degree requires an intense schedule of classes and clinical rotations, administrators have made a point of developing a scheduling system that is as student-friendly as possible.

“Student athletes must meet the same course and clinical requirements as all our nursing students, but there is flexibility for any of our students who have complex lives and responsibilities outside the School of Nursing, such as jobs, service clubs, children or aging parents,” said Dr. Foster.

We caught up with the three students to find out why they are pursuing nursing, why they stick with sports and how they balance it all.

Gillian Litynski Gill Litynski, ‘16 has already finished a major in global studies and is on track for a bachelor’s and doctoral degree in nursing through the Hillman Scholars in Nursing Innovation Program. An ACC champion and 2015 ACC Fencer of the Year for women’s sabre, she’s also a three-time All-ACC Academic athlete. (see Q&A)

Alex Moore

Alex Moore, ‘17 transferred to UNC in 2014 to pursue a nursing degree while continuing her outstanding career on the lacrosse field. She dreams of becoming a nurse anesthetist. (see Q&A)

Tory Kemp, ‘17 is an All-ACC Academic track and field athlete ranking 3rd all-time in UNC’s history in the heptathlon. She hopes to use her nursing degree to serve women and children. (see Q&A)