Joel Schaefer

Nursing, B.S.

 

"Within a couple months [of graduating], I picked up a job working in the trauma ICU at Loma Linda University. There are few things more rewarding than being part of the team that brings a person back from the brink."

Why did you choose your major? What interested you in this particular field of study?
During high school, I was very interested in eventually going to seminary and becoming a pastor. I remember assuming that I would be a religious studies major in college and then go on to seminary. However, a pastor and good friend wisely suggested that I study in a field that would help provide me a job that I could use to support a family and supplement a pastor’s salary. Since pastors unfortunately are generally underpaid, having the opportunity to earn an income elsewhere lightens the load on both the pastor and their congregation. So, I started looking for a degree that could help provide financial support and allow me to serve others.

During a gap year after high school, while I was working for a nonprofit in Mexico, my mom suggested that I look into nursing. Initially, the idea was somewhat repulsive. No way was anyone going to catch me delivering babies in pink scrubs, nope, not me. However, I took some time and learned more about the field. I slowly began to open up to the idea. While I was down in Mexico I started looking for nursing programs in Southern California. I read about CBU and felt like it was a good fit, I applied and started the following year.

Now, eight years later, I find myself working in an intensive care unit (ICU). While not every day provides you an overwhelming sense of fulfillment, I am grateful to work in a field where I can have a positive effect on people on a regular basis. The flexibility that nursing provides by working three 12-hour shifts is amazing as it gives you the opportunity to work, learn and serve in other ways on days off. I am very grateful to have gone into nursing and would not have done it any other way.

What did you like about being in this program at CBU?
CBU really provides a Christ-centered environment. With prayers before every class, the day was started and focused on Christ. Having a Christian faith in common with your professors is an amazing blessing and a constant encouragement. 

My wife is a nurse and went to another community college in the area. As I told her about prayers before class, and the Christian environment, she frequently would share her jealousy and wished that she had had the same opportunity. The value of having Christ at the center of your education, is something that cannot be understated.

What did you think about your professors?
Something that I can say about each one of my professors is that they care for you. I remember even in my prerequisites being in some larger classes, but still being able to schedule a time to sit down and talk one on one with the head professor. The professors really do care about you and your education. 

Did you participate in anything else at CBU?
I lived off campus during college, and so while I did not participate in many of the on-campus social activities, I did play in some intermural sports. I had a great time playing soccer, basketball and volleyball. It was a great way to blow off some steam, and meet and interact with students in different majors and backgrounds.

In addition, I did spend some time as a student worker for the campus security. The job wasn’t always easy, but helped provide some great experience for the future. On top of that, I was able to spend a semester doing some tutoring as well. This experience probably contributed to my desire to do some teaching in the future which has now helped land me a position teaching CBU nursing students in their critical care clinical. 

What have you done since graduating?
Following nursing school, I was able to pass the NCLEX without an issue, and within a couple months, I picked up a job working in the trauma ICU at Loma Linda University. This was an incredible experience. On the trauma ICU, I was regularly pushed with patients whose lives hung in the balance. There are few things more rewarding than being part of the team that brings a person back from the brink. Loma Linda University Medical Center also provides an incredible new grad nursing education. I am indebted to the amazing experienced nurses there who helped make me the nurse I am today. For new grads looking for a position, Loma Linda University Medical Center also provides a very Christ-centered environment with Bible verses on the wall. I remember praying with nurses and doctors for patients at the bedside and before procedures. I have never had the same experience anywhere else and I definitely recommend LLUMC for those looking to start out their nursing careers. 

For the last couple years, I have been working at Kaiser Fontana Medical Center in their ICU. This also has been a good experience. Since the Fontana facility is the Kaiser neuro center for the Inland Empire, we are able to work with a number of stroke, bleeds and neuro trauma cases. While working in tandem with neurosurgery is challenging and complicated, it is exciting to see some incredible improvements in some patients following certain neurological interventions. I am currently working toward becoming a rapid response nurse who will respond to all the codes in the hospital. This will be an exciting and challenging position, that will demand excellence, but will also give me the opportunity to make a difference for patients in real need.

Currently, I am studying for my MBA in healthcare management through Western Governors University. While I don’t plan on going into management immediately, I am hoping to have the degree in my back pocket for when the right opportunity provides itself. Education and improvement is a constant part of nursing. A couple years ago I was able to test for and earn my critical care registered nurse (CCRN) certification. This certification, while difficult, is an important way to improve your education and subsequently benefit your patients. 

Finally, a couple months ago, I started working as an adjunct faculty member teaching in the CBU critical care semester. This has been a great experience and I appreciate getting to help students along their path to nursing. Having been in the program only a few years ago, I feel I can definitely relate to their experience and empathize as they work through the challenging sections of the nursing program.

How has your major and time at CBU prepared you for your life and career after college?
The nursing program is challenging, and with me working nearly full-time through the program, I was definitely pushed. However, as I look back at this experience I can take confidence knowing I made it through.

Is there anything you learned at CBU that you still use in your professional life today?
While I was going to CBU, I had the CBU bumper sticker that simply stated, “Live Your Purpose.” To this day I would say that motto has been a reminded to me to stay focused and constantly live my purpose. 

How are you making a difference in the world? How are you living your purpose?
Working on a critical care team, I am consistently helping to save people’s lives. Having the ability to have your purpose be part of providing others a second chance at their purpose is pretty awesome. It is invigorating to know I have found a vocation where I can serve patients daily and where my personal touch can make a difference. 

On top of that, given the three-day nursing schedule, I am able to have a greater amount of time with my family. My beautiful wife, our 2-year-old son and our little girl due in February, mean so much to me. Part of everyone’s purpose in life relates to the family around them and the time and value you can provide to them. To be able to work in an environment of service and be able to have even more time with your family is priceless.  

Would you recommend CBU to others?
If you can afford it, I’d definitely recommend it. I hate to focus on the fiscal side of things, but going to any private school these days is expensive. Thanks to Dave Ramsey and a debt-free mindset, I am on pace to have paid off all my student loans next year. However, finances are something significant to consider in your school choice. Thankfully, nursing is unique in that it provides you the opportunity to have a well-paying job greeting you at the end of school. Therefore, if you have to take on some student loans to make it through, the ability to pay back those loans is greater with a nursing degree than with many other degrees.

 

Learn More

B.S. in Nursing
College of Nursing

 

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