“My name is Emily Berendzen, and I'm in the Family Nurse Practitioner Program.

“My professional and educational background began at Rockhurst. I started working in the OR as a nurse and then kind of decided to go back to school to become a nurse practitioner. Rockhurst kind of always just felt like home to me, so I just came right back.

“Every step of the way somebody from Rockhurst is checking in and helping me with what I need to do next, whether that's getting enrolled in my first classes, checking in with us as we have our first test. You always have somebody available as your adviser, as your success coach, so I feel very supported throughout the whole process.

“Rockhurst is small and very focused, and everybody at Rockhurst wants all the students to succeed. I feel like my faculty members know who I am, even with this online program. The instructors are able to give us all of these resources that we will use now to learn the information, but also that we'll use in our future when we are treating and diagnosing patients every day.

“I think the on-campus immersion hands-on portion is very helpful because you need to be able to get your hands on patients to be able to learn the skills fully. The simulations are also amazing for helping us learn specific assessments for patients. We can make mistakes while we're learning still, and then we get to debrief and correct those things and get to learn for our future when we do have real patients.

“It's definitely not an easy program, but I've learned that I can do really challenging things. I can maintain a really busy schedule of work and now school and my personal life too.

“My very favorite part of nursing right now as a nurse in the OR is when I get to call a patient's family and tell them, ‘Hey, we fixed your family member today.’ Hearing the gratitude from patients and families in that part of their care has really been influential on me choosing this profession and wanting to further my education just so I can keep making people's lives better.”