Next Up: Nurse Researcher
When John Karlsen dual enrolled at Brightpoint as a high school senior, he wanted to explore different healthcare careers before deciding on his bachelor’s degree major. His associate degree in health sciences and EMT certification at Brightpoint gave him patient-care experience and a pathway for his future.
When John Karlsen dual enrolled at Brightpoint as a high school senior, he wanted to explore different healthcare careers before deciding on his bachelor’s degree major.
His associate degree in health sciences and EMT certification at Brightpoint gave him patient-care experience and a pathway for his future. Now John is a student research assistant at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Nursing where Parkinson’s disease-related clinical research has inspired him to contemplate earning a doctoral degree after becoming an RN.
Here’s how he built a résumé that goes off the charts:
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Working directly with patients through his EMT classes influenced John’s decision to pursue nursing.
"I got 12 hours of in-hospital patient care-experience in one of my EMT classes, and that was by far my favorite portion of clinical in the whole program," John said. “I loved it because you get to stay with the patient longer than just 10 minutes on the transit to the hospital. You really get to learn who they are as a person.”
After graduation from Brightpoint and before his first semester at VCU, he landed a summer job as an EMT with Richmond Ambulance Authority.
“I loved the position but realized that I couldn’t be an EMT full time because of the back-to-back calls,” John said. “Nursing was more appealing to me because of the impact you can have on a patient’s life. It’s also interdisciplinary and allows for close collaboration with colleagues.”
“I came out of Brightpoint with more than an associate degree. I came out with leadership potential and admission to a nursing program at a four-year university.”
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After his summer job, he joined VCU Medical Center as a patient-care technician, a role he’s held part time since his first semester at VCU. He’s assisted nurses in acute-care surgical services by sitting with patients, helping them with hygiene needs and monitoring their vital signs on the trauma floor as well as held leadership positions on the fall unit committee and trained other patient care technicians n the Medical Intermediate and Intensive Care Unit.
“Not many of my classmates were care partners or nursing techs before or during that first semester,” John said. “That’s what gave me the opportunity to excel and lead group projects.”
Because he could share real-world examples, John helped his classmates, leveraging case studies from his own experiences for class projects.
“For my research paper on hypoglycemia, I described many scenarios connected with evidence-based practice, interventions and support, and how I’ve implemented them in the real world,” John said. “I could help my partner come up with examples of her own and describe how she might implement those interventions.”
John also volunteers as an EMT with Dinwiddie County Fire and EMS.
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John’s clinical research at VCU even opened up additional career possibilities. One project involved using Wi-Fi sensing technology to track declines in elderly patients’ mobility and daily activities.
Participating in the study led to his strong interest in bio-behavioral research.
“I’m interested in those biomarkers that affect our feelings,” John said. “So I hope to engage in research and possibly pursue a Ph.D. — and maybe even one day join the faculty at VCU or a community college.”
After high school, Khiem Tran spent a gap year working and saving — to achieve his dream of earning a bachelor’s degree. At Brightpoint, he discovered a lasting desire to give back and took advantage of the college’s guaranteed transfer agreement with Virginia Commonwealth University.
More than 400 students were named to the lists.
The college's Fall 2023 schedule includes a new class session and a new pathway that allow students to focus on fewer classes at one time.
To Brittany Woolridge, Great Expectations is not just the title of a novel by Charles Dickens. It’s the name of a Brightpoint program that has supported her on the way to “where God placed me to be,” she says. “Helping others, whether adults or kids, I feel like that’s where I’m supposed to be.”