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Humans of Penn Nursing: Kathryn Di Vitantonio, Nu’19

“When I was 13, I started volunteering at my local hospital—Newton Medical Center, located in the northwestern corner of New Jersey—because I wanted something to keep me busy and I also wanted to help people.

One day I witnessed a patient go into cardiac arrest and need to be coded. He was on a general med-surg floor and, as a candy-striper, I was bringing water to his room when it happened. I remember running back out into the hallway and yelling for help and then hiding outside his room while the nurses were in there. I was both scared and curious about what was going to happen. I still clearly remember the nurses coming in and caring for this patient and how calmly and adeptly they handled his care. It stuck with me and is one of the first events that led me to the field of nursing.

Then when I was 20, almost 21, I needed to have a preservative hip surgery—a periacetabular osteotomy (PAO)—because I have bilateral hip dysplasia. I was inpatient for 5 days following the procedure and the nurses who took care of me were wonderful. Between being really patient with me, paying a bit closer attention when I was having issues with my pain medication one of the nights my mom went home, and allowing me to pick their brains since they knew I wanted to eventually go into nursing, they made a difficult situation more bearable and a bit educational.
I graduated from Montclair State University in January 2018 with my BA in Family and Child Studies and a concentration in Gerontology. When I was going to need hip surgery, my family and I decided to defer nursing school since it would be more challenging to manage with clinical rotations and long shifts since the physical therapy, rehabilitation, and recovery from the PAO is extensive.

I always knew I wanted to go into nursing and have always had an affinity towards working with older adults given my experiences at Newton Medical Center and as a volunteer at my local continuing care/assisted living facility in Newton, NJ. And now that I’m at Penn Nursing as an ABSN student, the opportunities that I’ve been afforded and the hospitals and patients I have had the opportunities to work with have been invaluable and will help make me the best nurse I can be.

I am honored to pursue nursing since both my maternal grandmother and maternal great-grandmother were nurses. It means a lot to me to carry on the legacy.”

To submit your own story, visit: www.nursing.upenn.edu/humans.