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Taylor Bauman McWilliams ’19

Taylor Bauman McWilliams ’19 didn’t always know that she wanted to go into nursing. But an internship at Shock Trauma in her sophomore year helped the Biology major realize the full scope of the nursing profession. She says she wouldn’t change a thing about her McDaniel experience and post-baccalaureate nursing program at Moravian College, but she’s excited for future McDaniel Nursing students who will get the best of both worlds with the new Bachelor of Science in Nursing on the Hill.

A young woman in nursing scrubs stands next to an empty hospital bed.
What brought you to McDaniel College?
I grew up in Charlottesville, Virginia, and ended up at McDaniel mostly because I played volleyball. The volleyball coach at the time, Jess Wolverton, was at a tournament I was playing in at York and she approached me. When I came through on my recruit visit, I loved the small class sizes and that I would be able to get to know my professors along with being part of the volleyball program.
How did you decide on your Biology major? Did you always know that you wanted to be a nurse?
I wasn’t really sure that I wanted to do something in the medical field, but I majored in Biology because I had Professor Susan Parrish for my First Year Seminar, and I loved her and her class. I didn’t know much about nursing until I did a Jan Term internship at University of Maryland Medical Center’s R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center. Before that, I don’t think I understood the full array that nursing had to offer. By the time I was a junior, I’d decided I wanted to pursue nursing, but I didn’t want to transfer out of McDaniel and start over for a four-year nursing program, so I met with Professor Steve McCole, and he helped me figure out what programs I could pursue after completing my Biology degree at McDaniel. I applied to some accelerated nursing programs where I had all the prerequisite courses already. I ended up attending Moravian College for a 19-month accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program.
What was it about that internship at Shock Trauma that opened your eyes?
Observing the autonomy that nurses had in Shock Trauma was really eye-opening to me. They were the eyes and ears of the unit and gave recommendations to the doctors based on their observations of the patients. I realized I wanted to be hands-on, to be the person administering IVs, being there with the patients, educating them, and things like that.

"McDaniel set a great foundation for me for nursing school and my nursing career, especially in Biology." 

Taylor Bauman McWilliams
Would you have done anything differently along your educational journey to becoming a nurse?
Even now, I would never go back and not go to McDaniel first. McDaniel set a great foundation for me for nursing school and my nursing career, especially in Biology. I really enjoyed my time there, especially since it allowed me to be really engaged as a volleyball player as well.
How did McDaniel’s liberal arts education prepare you for nursing school and your nursing career?
The wide array of classes that I took still sticks with me. I frequently still think about the History of African American Religion course that I took with Associate Professor Brad Stoddard. That course really challenged me because I had to think very deeply and critically about everything I was reading and writing, and that’s helped me learn how to dissect complex materials and translate them. At work, I have to read doctors’ notes, and sometimes you may not get the best handoff from another nurse, so you need to read a lot of notes and quickly determine what is important and what to act on. Each patient is a big picture, so you don’t want to get too task-focused; but you also don’t want to be thinking too broadly that you miss an important task. I use a lot of the nuances that I learned in that class, and it also helped me with some cultural competency in being a nurse for different populations of people. That’s a class I never would have taken if I’d gone to a traditional nursing program right off the bat. Having a language requirement has also been helpful. Moravian made us take medical Spanish classes, but I had taken German at McDaniel. You never know when that background may help you make a special connection with a patient of a different heritage.
What excites you for future students who are interested in Nursing at McDaniel?
I’m excited that students who, unlike me, know they want to go into nursing right away won’t have to make a choice between McDaniel and somewhere else that has a Nursing program. Students will now get to have their full, incredible McDaniel experience and also get a jumpstart on their Nursing education. It doesn’t have to be one or the other anymore. McDaniel has always had its students at the center and the fact that new Nursing students will still have really small class sizes, will know their professors really well, and will be able to get individual feedback in their clinical education is invaluable. Nursing instructors who know you personally who will be able to write letters of recommendation for you can sometimes be the difference between getting an interview and not, and you may not get that at a larger nursing school. The community outreach aspect of my nursing school experience was really meaningful to me, so the community partnerships will be great for the program, too, with Carroll Hospital right there. It’s going to be a great opportunity for students and the Westminster and Carroll County communities.
What is the most rewarding part about being a nurse?
Forming connections with the families and patients. I work in a surgical trauma intensive care unit, so some of our patients are there for a significant amount of time and may not be able to communicate for themselves for a bit. Sometimes, I make a connection with the family members before I’m ever able to directly connect with the patient. Circumstances like that can be really difficult for families, so staying there with them to be sure they understand everything that’s going on and everything the doctor is saying is really important to me. I’m an advocate for them as much as for their loved ones who are under our care. And then, of course, seeing patients recover to the point where they are no longer needing a ventilator to breathe or they’re walking or talking … it’s so incredible. I feel so blessed that I get to carry and care for people’s lives for those 12 hours.

About Taylor

Career: Registered Nurse

Class: 2019

Major: Biology

Minor: Psychology