Meet Carley L.

Carley LaPole
Carley LaPole
Bachelor of Science Program, Morgantown Campus

What made you consider nursing as a program of study?

I love helping others and have always pictured myself working in healthcare in some way. My dad is a radiologist practitioner assistant and I’ve grown up hearing stories of what it’s like working in healthcare. 

As I began looking into college during my senior year of high school, he encouraged me to look into nursing. I realized how diverse the profession is and all the opportunities available within it. I shadowed a few nurses to see what they did, and I loved how compassionate they were and how they truly cared for the person, not just the patient.

I also shadowed my dad to see another side of healthcare, and I saw the way he treated people with kindness and genuineness. I wanted to have an impact on people in the same way.

Did you have an ah-ha moment about wanting to become a nurse?

When I realized all the pathways you can take as a nurse, from working in the OR to being a traveling nurse, it seemed like the profession for me. I love trying new things and traveling to new places, and if I can help others along the way, why wouldn’t I choose nursing? 

Why did you choose the WVU School of Nursing?

WVU’s School of Nursing was very appealing to me as I was researching nursing schools. I liked that there was a direct admission option along with pre-nursing. I saw that they traveled and are very involved in the community.

I also wanted to have the opportunity to work in the WV STEPS Center. In high school, I took an anatomy class, which was another key factor in my decision to go to nursing school. I joined a county-wide healthcare club because of this class, and we were supposed to visit the STEPS lab at WVU but never got the chance. This is a state-of-the-art facility right at our fingertips, and I’m so grateful to have gotten to learn in the lab. 

Lastly, the biggest deciding factor for choosing WVU School of Nursing was the fact that clinicals started sophomore year. Many of the other schools I looked into didn’t begin clinical experience until junior year. I’m a hands-on learner, so being exposed to the hospital a whole year ahead of most other schools, as well as having the STEPS lab, made me feel confident in choosing WVU. I feel like over the past three years, I’ve been able to adequately apply what I’ve learned in the classroom to my clinical experiences.

Could you share a positive experience from your time at the School of Nursing?

One of my favorite memories from being in the School of Nursing was helping with the COVID-19 testing and vaccine clinics during my sophomore year. COVID-19 has flipped this world upside down, and healthcare providers have the responsibility and privilege of helping our community, state, country and world in times of health crises such as the pandemic. 

Being a sophomore in nursing school during the middle of a pandemic was an interesting experience, but I wouldn’t change a thing. At that point in school, we’re beginning the hands-on portion of our education. We learned how to administer vaccines in the STEPS lab which equipped us to volunteer for the vaccine clinics around town.

I remember before the vaccine came out, I helped with COVID-19 testing at the Mountainlair and Rec Center. As I put on all of the PPE and looked around the room at the other volunteers and staff, I couldn’t help but smile. No, I wasn’t excited about COVID-19, but that was the first time where I felt like a nurse. I felt like a part of the healthcare team, and I couldn’t wait to help people. It felt like I was a part of something bigger than myself, and I caught a glimpse of what my future career could look like. During those testing and vaccine clinics, it felt like my dreams and ideas of becoming a nurse were turning into a reality.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to your freshman self?

If I could go back to freshman year, I would tell myself to not worry so much about exams and assignments, but instead do my absolute best and get the most out of them that I can. Work hard, work well, and never say no to an opportunity in clinical, even if it feels outside of your comfort zone. 

What are your plans after graduation?

After graduation, I’d like to work at the WVU Children’s Hospital on the MICC unit. After a few years, I’d love to be a travel nurse, and eventually work in the mission’s field as a nurse abroad. My sister spent the past summer in Africa for an internship and told me about the need for safe maternal and infant care over there. I’d love to be a part of a team that can make that a reality.

Why would you recommend the WVU School of Nursing to someone?

I have nothing but gratitude for the WVU School of Nursing. From the beginning, I have felt cared for and included in the program. Truthfully, I was nervous about coming to such a big school like WVU. I was afraid I’d just be a number on a roster, but my professors have never made me feel like that. Even in the bigger classes freshman and sophomore year, I felt seen and my education mattered to my professors. They have challenged me and stretched me outside of my comfort zone in so many ways, and I’m thankful for all they’ve taught me.

Also, the clinical experience at WVU SON is like no other. Being able to learn at Ruby Memorial Hospital, the No. 1 hospital in the state of West Virginia and a high-performing level one trauma center in the region, has been a huge blessing. We’ve had opportunities that I’m not sure could’ve been found anywhere else.

How do you feel WVU prepared you for your next chapter?

I’ve been pondering this question a lot the past few months. The idea of the future, graduation and becoming an RN is a little intimidating to me. It’s extremely exciting, but a very big change that I’m sure will come with its own challenges. However, I truly do believe that WVU, specifically the School of Nursing, has prepared me for what lies ahead. 

During my time here, I’ve learned how to manage my time, how to take responsibility, how to manage hard work, and how to live life fully. We are Mountaineers, and this summer I was challenged to think about what that really means. I believe Mountaineers are adventure-seekers. We like a challenge, we are curious, we are pioneers. We put the needs of others first and always seek a chance to learn. 

Growing up in this beautiful state, I’ve always been proud to be from West Virginia. After attending WVU, though, I feel an even deeper love for this state, this school, and being able to call myself a Mountaineer. I want to take what I’ve learned here and the boldness for adventure this school has imprinted on me as I move forward on to the next chapter in May.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I really want to thank my family for encouraging me always, but especially in the decision to become a nurse. I want to thank my friends for letting me practice my head to toe assessment and vital sign competency tests on them, and for being huge supporters the past three years. I’m thankful for friends like Brooklyn Thomas, Lauren Louk, Autumn Oritz, and Kaitlyn Stephenson who are already working in the nursing field and have helped me see the joys of the profession that I have to look forward to. 

I want to encourage anyone who is considering nursing to just do it! It’s so worth it!  Be prepared for hard work, have a good support system around you, and be open to every opportunity that presents itself.