Christina Koch ’20 always knew she wanted to work in health care, even if she wasn’t certain which field.
It just always stood to reason that, as someone who wanted to help and make a difference in people’s lives, providing access to the most basic human need —health — was going to be for her.
“I’ve always wanted to use the opportunity of a college education to help people who need it the most,” she shared.
Koch is considered a “legacy” student at Graceland — her grandmother, father and sister all attended. She is a member of the sponsoring church, and she already knew several students through Spectacular and other Community of Christ camps before becoming a student herself.
She looked at a few other schools and did college visits during high school, but she visited Graceland’s Lamoni campus three times during her senior year.
“I was drawn to Graceland in a way I can’t really explain,” shared Koch. “But I guess now that I’m here, I can explain it. It’s because of the great community and the people I’m surrounded with every day, the opportunities to meet new people, the amazing faculty — the faculty are awesome here! — and all of the ability to be involved in so many different things. You can’t have that at a bigger school.”
Even though Koch knew she would attend Graceland and had always wanted to work in health care, she hadn’t yet determined how the two would come together. She began her Graceland career undecided in her major and did not declare nursing until her sophomore year. This means she has had to spend three years on the Lamoni campus instead of just two for nursing students who declare their first year — but she has been grateful for the extra time.
Koch is heavily involved in campus life. She is the Afterglow band coordinator this year; she serves on Campus Ministries; she’s in choir, orchestra, percussion ensemble, and she takes piano; she is also in science club and president of the newly formed nursing club. Koch sees these experiences as an advantage as she moves into the nursing program and, ultimately, a career as a nurse.
Like other health care careers, a well-rounded liberal arts education benefits nursing students, too.
Koch chose nursing because it seemed to fit her best: “It requires school, but not too much; you get a lot of patient interaction, and you can specialize in anything,” she explained. As of now, Koch hopes to become a nurse anesthetist (CRNA).
Over summer and winter breaks, Koch volunteers at St. Clare Health Center in Fenton, Missouri, where she stocks the anesthesia store rooms and helps turn over the operating rooms after surgeries. Then, on slow days, she gets to sit in on surgeries with the CRNA on duty. “It’s amazing,” she expressed.
She radiates with excitement as she talks of what’s to come. Her smile can hardly be contained, and there’s delight in her voice. She also recognizes that when she gets into clinical settings, she could find another passion. So, she is keeping her options open.
As she makes her way through her final semester in Lamoni, she says it finally feels real. “I’m actually going to go and become a nurse, and that terrifies and excites me,” she says. “Because I know that the class load is going to be very difficult, and I’m going to have to get up very early,” she laughs, “but I also know that I’m going to be working in a hospital, and I’m going to be learning about pathophysiology and all of these things that I’ve been just yearning to know for the past three years.”
“I’m going to be exposed to new things that I’ve never seen before. I’m going to be seeing gross things and really cool things and just amazing things that modern medicine can do. And while I’m very sad to be leaving here, I’m prepared.”
Koch’s next stop is the Graceland University School of Nursing in Independence, Missouri. She will be joined by several of her Lamoni-campus classmates, and she is excited to maintain the support system they have created for each other throughout this journey. But most of all, she looks forward to days filled with surgeries and the opportunity to brighten people’s days when they’re not
There are four times as many registered nurses in the U.S. than physicians.
*Source: American Association of Colleges of Nursing
By this year, there will be far more registered nurse (RN) jobs available than any other profession.
*Source: American Nurses Association
The projected number of new RNs needed for expansion and replacement of retirees to avoid a nursing shortage.
*Source: American Nurses Association