Office of Development and Alumni

Erin Harkins-Medina
Associate Director for Development
School of Nursing
45085 University Dr
Suite 201C
Ashburn, VA 20147
Phone: 571-553-0122

New Nurse Says GW SON Prepared Her Well for Career

Brittany Key

While Brittany Key, RN, BSN was not committed to picking universities that go by the name of ‘George,’ she did happen to attend two of them. Originally from Whitehall, IL, Ms. Key came to the DC area to go to George Mason University in Fairfax, VA. After graduating with a degree in psychology, she decided to continue on at the George Washington University’s School of Nursing to obtain her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).

“I decided on GW because I liked the environment—the way it felt on the Virginia campus,” says Ms. Key. “But I was particularly interested in the school because of their simulation lab.”

According to Ms. Key, she learned that “you have to do something at least seven times before you grasp it.” There is no room for error in patient care. “The Sim Lab allows student nurses to make mistakes as many times as needed  before getting techniques and protocols right.”

For example, Ms. Key recalls the initial difficulties she had with the sterile technique of inserting a Foley catheter into female patients. But after multiple attempts in the Skills and Simulation Laboratory, she was able to do it seamlessly. “Now that I’m working at a hospital, I don’t have a problem with it. I never break my sterile technique.”

Ms. Key participated in the accelerated, fifteen-month program, and during that time formed a bond with her fellow BSN students. Several of them joined forces to collect food and clothing for a community in Gloucester, VA that was devastated by a tornado. They even took a day off to drive down to the site and spend time clearing out debris and personal items from a home that had been destroyed.

“We helped each other,” Ms. Key says of her classmates. “The program was rigorous. I could have done it on my own, but sharing the experience with other people helped me do it better.”

The rigorous nature of the program paid off. Ms. Key reports that she was well-prepared to take (and pass) the NCLEX exam to receive her nursing licensure. “What I found among GW graduates is that our training taught us to think critically and to be well-versed in the skills required to be an excellent nurse.”

Ms. Key, a 2012 graduate, obtained her first job after graduation as a nurse at the George Washington University Hospital in the Intensive Care Unit, a position she currently holds. It was there that she was able to appreciate how solid her nursing education was. “I was able to jump right into the ICU—no problem,” she says.

Ms. Key was recently promoted to Team Leader in the Intensive Care Unit and will be involved in growing the unit from a 40 to 56 bed facility. She is also being trained to take on the role of charge nurse and to care for patients who have had open heart surgery. Reflecting upon her time at GW SON

, Ms. Key firmly believes that her GW education played a strong part in helping her launch such a promising career.


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