Thirteen Marian University students and two faculty members were in the process of planning a trip to Haiti when a devastating earthquake struck early in 2010. Alyssa Simpson was one member of that Haitian relief corps. She observed “the trip involved helping the people in Haiti physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.” The experience prepared her—as it had prepared other students before her—for the rigors of difficult cases and challenging commitments.
“I made a lot of to-do lists,” said the former member of Marian University’s golf team who juggled the academic demands of her time-consuming nursing major. She found the balancing act to be slightly easier than her peers playing team sports. “With team sports like basketball or track, they had to get together as a team to run plays and practice their offense and defense. With golf, Coach Cope told us what to focus on, like putting or chipping. We went out in the morning and practiced on our own and worked around our clinicals.” The juggling act performed by Simpson and her teammates was evidently a hit: the Marian University ladies golf team received enough votes in the 2010 NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) national preseason polls to rank them 16th in the nation, their highest ranking ever. They finished 14th in the 2010 NAIA Women’s Golf National Championship.
Persistence is a parallel virtue, she’s noticed. “In golf, you have to persevere through the ups and down of 18 holes; in nursing, you sometimes have to work a long, 12-hour shift.” Simpson draws another golf/nursing comparison in terms of the critical thinking skills required by both disciplines. “You sometimes have to be creative with your golf shots when you get a bad lie,” she notes. Likewise, in nursing, you have to think your way through a challenge with a patient. Simpson describes golf as a mental sport. All the while you’re walking, you’re thinking about your next move. That kind of focus and critical thinking is also exactly what nurses need to have.”
Simpson is currently an RN at Hendricks Regional Health in Danville, Indiana.