Current student nurses have had an academic path that has been influenced in all ways by a global pandemic. This year, Minority Nurse celebrates National Student Nurse Day (honored every year on May 8) by learning more about Azariah Torain, a sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh. Torain also is involved in the National Student Nurses’ Association where she is the 2022-2023 Imprint Editor and chair of the Image of Nursing Committee.

What made you decide to go to nursing school

Nursing school was a clear choice for me. I wanted to go into a career path where I could both challenge myself and positively impact another person’s life. I knew that nursing school would offer me the flexibility to switch my specialty if I ever got bored with what I was doing. I am very indecisive so I appreciate this option.

Do you know what nursing specialty you would like to go into?

The specialty I think I would enjoy the most would likely be the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Taking care of the worlds’ smallest patients would be so rewarding but also an extremely challenging role. This could change tomorrow though. I am set on my end goal of going back to school and eventually becoming involved in executive leadership in some form.

What excites you most about the nursing industry? 

What excites me the most about nursing is the fact that it is an industry full of innovative people. We are fast-paced and our practice is always shifting and evolving based on evidence-based practice. The amount of career paths are endless and so is the potential for growth.

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What has been your biggest surprise as a student nurse?

My biggest surprise as a student nurse was definitely how quickly we are learning new things, especially this past semester. We would learn a skill in lab one week and the next we would have a competency evaluation and we are completing the skill from memory. Soon after that we are doing the skill on actual patients. My confidence in my ability has increased significantly as the year has gone by, but never too confident to ask for help.

Has the pandemic changed your path, outlook, or educational plans at all? 

The pandemic has shined a light on so many previously overlooked job opportunities in nursing. The prevalence of travel nursing and telehealth have me considering new possibilities! Being a freshman in 2020 was not fun, and I didn’t accomplish as much as I wanted to. With this school year a bit tamer, I have gotten to participate in so much more, and I truly feel like I’m getting the full nursing student experience.

Do you have mentors or supporters? 

My parents are easily my number-one supporters, I had a skateboarding incident and broke my front tooth in half three days before my white coat ceremony. My mom somehow was able to find someone to fix it just in time. Even from hours away she still saves the day.

How do you envision your nursing educational and career paths? 

I envision the two being very closely intertwined. As I advance in my education I will hopefully advance through my career. I plan on getting a Masters’ in Business Administration and possibly a doctorate level nursing degree in executive leadership.

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What would you say to others considering who are thinking of becoming student nurses?

I would encourage anyone looking into nursing to make sure that they are at a stable place in life before enrolling in school. Nursing school can be done and it can be extremely rewarding but it is also incredibly taxing. I welcome anyone to join the nursing profession and if you are thinking of nursing school, you should be active and join a professional organization like NSNA.

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil
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