Q&A with Jennifer Dysart, RN Grad Fellow

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Q&A block letters

Learn more about Marymount's online ABSN program.

Jennifer’s experience in Marymount’s ABSN program is as interesting as it is educational for those considering a career change to nursing. Learn all about:

  • Her life before nursing
  • Why she wanted to become a nurse
  • The support she received during the program
  • And what she’s doing now


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Jennifer Dysart

What were you doing before enrolling in Marymount’s ABSN program?

I earned a bachelor’s degree in political science in 2015. I moved from the Midwest to the DC area for a job in social services. I worked for a mentoring organization for two years where I did in-home consultations for kids. I was the middleman between foster parents, social workers, volunteer organizations and the kids. I did that for two years and I traveled for a year. I came back to the DC-area where I was trying to finish up prerequisites because I was trying to get into a nursing school.

Name three things that led you to make the decision to become a nurse.

I think the first thing is what everybody says: a feeling of wanting to help people and really make a difference. I’ve always felt that pull. There’s so much you can do in the world to help other people. 

The second one is feeling a lack of direction in my life as I became an adult. I was looking for something more concrete, something more streamlined that made sense. With nursing there’s a very specific plan that you follow. You have to complete the coursework and clinical hours. Most people graduate and do bedside nursing for some time and then all the other doors open up. That path made so much sense to me. 

The third thing is that I had an internship in college in the communications and development office of my hometown hospital. Just being in the hospital and being in the environment, there is just something about it. It was a different level of professionalism that I hadn’t experienced before. Everybody has their purpose in the hospital, and everyone says “hello” to each other and to everyone who comes in the door, you say, “Hi, how can I help you?” I wanted to become involved in healthcare at that point in any way that I could.

Why did you choose Marymount?

I heard about Marymount and I decided I was going to visit the school. Being on the campus and seeing the resources that they had gave me a lot of faith in the program. The more I dug, the more I realized that Marymount is a really good nursing school. They have a really good reputation in the area, so you’re set up with jobs after the fact. You have an immediate network of professors and alumni. They’re nurses but they’re also Marymount nurses. I started talking to people there. I came from a small town and a small liberal arts school. I knew that I needed that extra attention in the classroom and Marymount is able to give that to students.

Describe the intensity of the program and how you were able to successfully complete it.

I knew that I would need the extra attention and that I couldn’t hold a job while going through the program. It is an intense program and you can’t passively go through it. My success was because I did take that warning seriously. I struggled in my first bachelor’s degree because I didn’t have direction. This was my second chance and I wanted to be at the top of my class. I wanted to give it my all and get through it and do well. My advice to students is to take it seriously. The student success advisor is a saint and I love her. She had a ton of good suggestions for how to study and how to get through the program given the intensity. She had a lot of good advice and I took a lot of that advice.

What did you like about the program?

I felt like the content and quality of the courses matched the price tag. I really felt like I was getting a quality education. A lot of my great experiences had to do with the faculty. I have so many memory nuggets from my time in the program. You have a faculty member telling you a patient story from when they were a bedside nurse.  It sticks with you and you never forget it. Moments with faculty like that were very important. 

The office hours were a lifeline for me. They give you that time to review test questions that you got wrong. During every single semester and every single class, I talked to the professors and went through the answers I got wrong and they always gave me time to do that. That’s part of the reason why I did so well in the program. 

In the first semester, I took the Pharmacology course and thought I’d fail it. I met with the professor four times to develop a strategy to study and beef up the areas that I was weak on. She not only met with me four times in the weeks leading up to the final, but she called me on her drive home the night before the final because I had sent her an email asking for additional help. She talked to me about these last-minute study areas that I was going through. The clarification she gave me was helpful, but it was also the confidence she was instilling in me. She made me feel calm going into the final and that was everything. 

Have you taken the NCLEX yet?

I took the NCLEX in July 2020. I was way more prepared than I thought I was. I absolutely credit Marymount for that. I credit Susanne Smith, my Student Success Advisor. We had to take these standardized tests for most of our courses. They prepare you throughout the whole program so that when you graduate and you’re preparing for the NCLEX, by the time you’re ready to take it, most of the work has been done already and you’re just reviewing.

What do you hope to accomplish as a nurse?

At the end of the day, I hope I can help people. It’s really important to me to feel useful and productive. With nurses, if you can’t target your “care tendency” toward something, you don’t feel fulfilled, so I hope that I can actually help people and my knowledge as a nurse is useful. In terms of a career pathway, the unit that I was hired on is really good about advancing nurses within their department. I have plans on becoming certified in the emergency department and becoming a mentor and preceptor. I would like to do those things before I go back to school, and everything is pointing for me to go back to Marymount.

What impressed you about the Marymount faculty?

So many of them have their doctorates in nursing and they have these really interesting and varied careers. I had no idea when I entered the program all the things that I could do in nursing. I could work for the American Nursing Association or all these other things, too. I want to get my clinical time done and then go back to school. I’m interested in management and clinical education. I want to be a nursing professor because of the role models that I’ve had throughout the program.

Did you get hired as a nurse after completing the program?

I became an RN Grad Fellow in a hospital at the end of July. I’m a nurse in the emergency department and so far, I’ve done a ton of coursework. The health system I work for has a ton of online learning programs and in-person training to beef up what we learned in school and we continue to meet once a month as new nurses. 

What might you share with someone considering the online ABSN program at Marymount?

I had a patient a few weeks ago ask me where I went to school and what should she do to become a nurse? I told her to just do it. Marymount is a great option to go for. One of the things that kind of tipped me toward Marymount is that they have one of the highest NCLEX pass rates in the area. The preparation of the students says everything about the quality of the program. A greater percentage of them are passing it on the first try vs other schools in the area. This indicates that the courses are of higher quality. I think that goes back to the faculty and everything they put into their jobs. If you’re more of a numbers person, that 90+% pass rate is hard to argue with!

Start your journey like Jennifer did and make a difference in your own life and others’ lives through a new career as a nurse. Get more information about the Online Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree (ABSN) from Marymount University.


To Hear More Interviews From Our ABSN Students, be Sure to Also Read:

Why These Online ABSN Students Chose Marymount