School of Nursing’s reputation for excellence draws new cohort of students

smiling person hands a smiling student a folder

By Tatum Lyles Flick
VUSN Communications Specialist 

Fall 2022 brought 584 new faces and a variety of backgrounds as part of the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing incoming class, with 143 PreSpecialty (bachelor’s in a field other than nursing), 343 Direct Entry (BSN-prepared), 66 Doctor of Nursing Practice, one new PhD in Nursing Science and 23 Post-Master’s Certificate students, some of whom are also obtaining the DNP. 

In total, new School of Nursing students come from 272 undergraduate programs in 47 states and three countries 

John M. Abiassi, a pediatric ICU travel nurse at Childrens Healthcare of Atlanta, is studying to earn an MSN in Nursing and Health Care Leadership. Abiassi’s first experience in health care was as a pediatric ER patient care technician, but his first love was acting. 

A musical theatre actor who has been performing since he was in the second grade, Abiassi says his acting background adds to his strengths as a nurse.  

“One of the biggest lessons I learned from acting was how to empathize with people who aren’t like me,” he said. “With my training, I believe I am able to better understand people’s primary motivations or intentions about why they do what they do.”  

“After calming a child down while he was in c-spine in the ER, I knew there was something I could contribute to the health care landscape,” Abiassi said of his initial work as an ER tech. “I chose Vanderbilt because it is a name like no other. When you hear the name Vanderbilt in association with the School of Nursing, it carries weight. The faculty, from the second I applied, were active and engaged in my development and that is the kind of leader I want to be.” 

person in camo, holds a certificate

Ethan Fournier, a Bass Military Scholar at VUSN

Ethan Fournier, from Magnolia, TX, is part of the pediatric acute care nurse practitioner program. He has more than four years of army nursing experience in adult medical-oncology and inpatient pediatrics. He now works at the Vanderbilt Pediatric After-Hours Clinic. 

“On the pediatric ward I worked primarily with kids with cancer,” he said. “This is when I found my passion in nursing, helping children beat cancer. I was drawn to a career in nursing because I wanted to make a difference in the world by helping people when they needed it the most.” 

Fournier chose Vanderbilt based on its prestige and to help him become a better pediatric nurse. 

“I also chose Vanderbilt because of the Bass Military Scholars program which allows me as a veteran to continue to serve through volunteering,” he said. The Vanderbilt University Bass Military Scholars Program awards $30,000 scholarships annually to highly talented veterans pursuing graduate and professional degrees at Vanderbilt. Recipients participate in volunteer, mentoring and leadership activities while pursuing their degrees.  

Fournier is one of two new School of Nursing Bass Scholars this year; Former U.S. Army First Lieutenant Morgan Krokow is a family nurse practitioner student and the school’s second 2022 scholar.

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