Caring, kind, assertive and intelligent – these are a few of the many attributes that describe recent ABSN graduate, Lauren Madden. From Indianapolis Colts Cheerleader to ER Nurse at Riley Children’s Hospital, many might assume Lauren had it all figured out. But, she’s not your average nursing student. Like most things in this world, landing her dream job wasn’t a cake walk.
Lauren’s world took a turn when both of her parents were diagnosed with cancer within six months of each other. She was completing her telecommunications degree at the time, but had plans of eventually becoming a Broadway star. However, witnessing her parents’ nurses in action sparked a new dream that shockingly trumped her Broadway aspirations. Lauren dropped everything to go after her newfound passion. In an effort to turn her telecommunications degree into a nursing career as quickly as she could, Lauren discovered Marian University’s accelerated BSN program.
Through the trials and tribulations, her love for her parents, support from her cohort, and optimistic attitude are what kept her going. This is Lauren’s unexpected journey to becoming a nurse.
Growing up, a normal night around the dinner table consisted of medical jargon and patient stories told by her Dad, ER doctor, and Mom, surgical technician. “Many nights, I would go to their work dinners and be surrounded by doctors and nurses – people in the medical field – I grew up around it,” she says.
When her parents’ colleagues would question her plans after college, passively advocating the healthcare route, Lauren would politely shy away with a different career path in mind. “I’m a caring person; I would have loved to be a nurse,” she says. “It’s definitely an amazing profession, but I grew up dancing and singing so, I had really big dreams for myself of being on Broadway.”
“Before pursuing telecommunications, my first major in school was musical theatre,” Lauren says. “At the time, I knew I would eventually go on Broadway. It was always in my mind.”
Instead of pursuing theatre in college, Lauren graduated from Ball State University with a telecommunications degree and decided to go after Broadway in a different way. As a stepping stone to higher profile projects, she cultivated her dance skills by performing in the spotlight of Indiana Professional Sports teams – as a Colts Cheerleader and Pacers Pacemate.
Lauren certainly enjoyed her time as a professional dancer, but she longed for more. “I was happy with what I was doing with my life, but I just didn’t feel fulfilled,” she says.
In the summer of 2011, Lauren’s Dad was diagnosed with cancer.
“Watching my Dad go through chemo was really difficult,” Lauren says. “It was hard to see him as a patient, especially as a doctor because he fully knows what is happening to his body. It was really scary.”
“I was in awe of the nurses that took care of my Dad and our whole family; they were so sweet and really cared about his needs,” she says. “Watching them perform their jobs, I couldn’t help but think, ‘oh gosh, I could totally see myself doing this.”
Six months later, Lauren’s Mom was diagnosed with cancer. This sequence of unexpected life crises left Lauren questioning her career aspirations.
“The moment my mom was diagnosed with cancer, I was like, ‘ok, that’s it! I’m going to nursing school. I have to be a nurse.’”
With no hesitation, Lauren sought a life-changing nursing program in Indianapolis that would allow her to hit the ground running. Fortunately enough, her best friend was in her second semester of Marian University’s accelerated BSN program. Hearing nothing but positive things about the program, she contacted an admissions advisor the next day.
“After speaking to an admissions advisor, I just felt like Marian University was the best fit for me,” Lauren says. “And, the fact that Marian University is faith-based makes a bit of a difference.”
Her telecommunications background made the transition into nursing school difficult to get used to, because a liberal arts degree is quite different from a scientific degree. “All of a sudden, I was back in school mode,” she says. “My brain had to go from interviewing people and writing their story to full-on science mode.”
When Lauren felt discouraged, she remained focused. “I would say to myself, ‘it’s only 16 months, you can do this. Think of graduating and getting a job in nursing.’ There was always something to look forward to.”
Lauren considers herself to be self-driven, but admits that nursing school wasn’t easy. She expressed that there’s a lot of sweat and tears that go into getting a nursing degree in 16 months, which is why she also appreciated the encouragement from her cohort.
“Going through what I was going through – just being able to rely on other people to help push you and guide you through that 16 months was incredibly important to me,” Lauren says.
Lauren completed many of her clinical rotations for the ABSN program at St. Vincent, one of Indiana’s top hospitals, and according to her, the experience was invaluable.
“The fact that the majority of our clinicals were at St. Vincent was nice,” she says. “St. Vincent is highly recognized; it’s a great hospital to be associated with.”
During the pediatric clinical rotation, Lauren’s glowing love for children was apparent. “I was definitely happiest during my peds rotation,” she says. “We did it at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital and after that is when I knew I wanted to work with kids.”
After completing the ABSN program at Marian University, Lauren chose pediatrics as her specialty and began her nursing career with the Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health. In Lauren’s eyes, Riley is the best-of-the-best in children’s hospitals and the best place to work with kids every day.
“It’s fun,” she says. “It’s comforting to help them, even if it’s just providing them with a warm blanket. I’ve definitely landed my dream job, and I’m so happy that I’m working at Riley.”
Today, Lauren celebrates the life of her father, Tom Madden, who lost his battle to cancer in 2012. She is reminded of his spirit every day at work. “I still feel like he’s guiding me,” she says.
Her mother, Terri Madden, now cancer free, was privileged to see her graduate from Marian University’s accelerated BSN program as a registered nurse in 2014.
Through Marian University’s Accelerated BSN program, there’s no such thing as an average nursing student. Students of all interests, backgrounds, experiences and age ranges choose to pursue their dreams here. You can even forget about the average age of nursing students (whatever that is) – because your age is the perfect age! That’s what makes our program so special.
If you’re ready to begin your own nursing school journey, contact an Admissions Advisor today.