According to Parents magazine, just five percent of mothers actually give birth when anticipated. While most children are born anywhere from 37 to 42 weeks after conception, about 11 percent begin life prematurely.
Marian University senior MacKenzie Acton and her twin brother were among that 11 percent. Born at just 30 weeks old, they spent several weeks in the neonatal intensive care, or NICU, unit at St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis.
But when she graduates from the Leighton School of Nursing on May 6, Acton will have come full circle. She is one of just three central Indiana students selected for a new NICU residency program at St. Vincent Women’s Hospital, which means she will begin her career as a registered nurse (RN) in the same hospital where she was born over 20 years ago.
“My family has attended NICU reunions hosted by St. Vincent for years. As I grew older, I got to know my primary care nurse. She still works at St. Vincent. And she’s the reason I was inspired to become a nurse,” Acton explains.
The Plainfield High School graduate credits the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program at Marian University for providing her with the knowledge, skills, and experience she needed in order to make her career goal a reality.
“I’ve absolutely loved my time at Marian. The faculty want to help students succeed and take the time to really get to know us. I knew if I needed help with an assignment, my professor would stay after class to answer questions or meet with me out of the classroom. As I think about the last four years, it’s crazy how far I’ve come. Everything I have learned and done has prepared me for a nursing career.”
The future RN says that of the universities she toured in high school, Marian was the only one she felt could be her home for four years. “The campus was the size I wanted, the nursing program was amazing, it was close to home, and I could continue playing music. And, thanks to the scholarships I received, Marian was affordable.”
The 21st Century Scholar received several university scholarships, including the St. Clare Academic Scholarship and the Fine Arts Talent Award for Instrumental Performance, among others.
A member of the university’s marching band, Acton also performed in the percussion ensemble. Besides snare drums, she plays the marimba, bells, xylophone, and other percussion instruments. She’s been recognized by the Department of Music with awards for musical performance and leadership.
Although Acton knew she wanted a NICU career, she remained open to learning about different types of nursing in college. “All of my clinical experiences have been valuable. So were elective courses on topics like critical care, which included visits to numerous critical care units throughout Indianapolis.”
She also says Marian’s nursing capstone has shown her how everything she’s learned comes together to forming a solid foundation on which she can begin her career.
Despite a busy schedule, Acton found time to work part-time at St. Vincent as a patient care technician in the NICU. She works 12-hour shifts a few times each month, providing basic care like feeding, changing diapers and linens, and monitoring blood pressure and heart rate.
Her advice for high school students who wonder whether nursing is the right major for them? “Ask if you can sit in on a nursing class. I did that as a high school senior and little did I know I was sitting in a room where I’d also be a college student. Spend the night on campus if you have the opportunity. Ask a lot of questions. If you do choose to major in nursing, be prepared to study and work hard—and don’t be afraid to ask for help.”
To learn more about the BSN program at Marian University, contact the Office of Undergraduate Admission or schedule a campus visit.