Nicole Birri of Shrewsbury, Massachusetts is a third-year nursing student at the University of Maine. When she’s not studying, she enjoys spending time with her friends, taking care of her pet rabbit and hitting the gym.
Although she is on track to graduate in the spring of 2023, like many other students, she’s navigated plenty of struggles during her academic career. She juggles working mandated clinical hours at Northern Light Acadia Hospital while taking seven courses centered around her major.
Her graduating class started off with 99 students enrolled in the nursing program in 2019. Now in the spring of 2022, only 32 remain.
“Being a successful nursing student is all about managing your time well, getting your school work done but also making sure you make time for friends and fun as well,” Birri said. “You’ll go crazy otherwise.”
This advice is easier said than done, but Birri expresses that being a nursing student comes with its downsides as well. Her days are filled with difficult classes, engaging with her study groups, all while balancing her grades and social life.
Birri also recently got the position of fundraising chair of the Orono Student Nursing Association (OSNA).
“The OSNA seeks to create an inclusive, supportive community for all nursing students – we aim to provide members with educational and service opportunities and provide a place for like-minded individuals to bond over their chosen career path,” Birri said.
This has helped her find friends with common interests that face similar challenges.
She’s also in charge of raising money for the Student Nursing Convention that takes place each year and celebrates the hard working student nurses, such as herself.
All of these extracurricular activities haven’t stopped Birri from being on the Dean’s List four consecutive semesters in a row.
For Birri, the tribulations of the past three years of nursing school have only made her more confident in her career path.
“Honestly, what makes it all worth it is making it this far,” Birri said. “I have gained a sense of pride in what I do within the medical field.”
During her second-year, Birri was placed into the clinical study portion of her degree. Since the fall of 2020, she has been working at local hospitals which has given her both real world experience and college credits.
This year, her placement was in Acadia Hospital within the psychiatric wing located in Bangor, Maine. Although this wasn’t her first choice, she knew that the psychiatric nursing course was the most interesting one she had taken. Once she got to work closely with the patients, it solidified her decision.
“In the medical field you just treat them and leave,” Birri said. “In psychiatry it’s more patient-based. You’re actually spending time with them and treating them fully.”
In previous summer months she worked at a retirement home in Worcester, Massachusetts. She was a med-tech with 23 patients of her own where she was in charge of passing out medications, following the doctor’s orders along with tending to an additional 236 people in case of an emergency.
Feeling slightly overwhelmed, she knew that a summer away from hospitals was in her best interest. She plans to quit her summer job this coming summer and take a step back from her overloaded schedule. However, after graduating it will be full steam ahead for Birri.
Her next steps after her undergraduate career will be studying psychiatry nursing in graduate school and obtaining her master’s degree in order to become a nurse that administers treatment in the ER. It’s an extensive and taxing career path, but she is confident that with her determination and level-headed attitude, she will be able to navigate the world of medicine.