Grad Landed Her Dream Job as Mental Health Nurse

Alauna Christian ’19                
Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri                                  
High School: Clyde C. Miller Career Academy
Degree program: Nursing
Career: Nurse at VA Hospital and Signature Psychiatric Hospital
Why did you choose UMKC?

I selected UMKC because of its reputation for health-care professions. Initially I wanted to go through the six-year medical program when I decided to apply here. However, I realized the patient connection I thrived in was within the field of nursing. Visualizing the way nurses cared for my family members throughout their illnesses created a passion in myself to do the same for others.

UMKC offered me a lot of different opportunities, including scholarships, internships and connections. They helped me develop my leadership skills and land the career I wanted in nursing.

Tell us about your internships.

I completed an internship at the Kansas City VA Hospital in their VALOR Program. It allowed me to understand the socioeconomic struggles our veterans endure throughout their lives. I enjoyed working with this population because I learned a lot about critical care and mental illness. This experience confirmed my career aspirations to become a psychiatric nurse practitioner.

Why do you focus on mental illness?

I think mental health is definitely an aspect that has been ignored and is broken in the community. Growing up seeing people with mental health issues, and understanding how people in the African American community suffer from mental illness, I’ve always wanted to identify the reason behind that. And help people who have it. And not just the people who have mental illness, but the people and their families.

What was the nursing program like?

The challenges of the nursing program are time management and critical thinking. It is important to balance studying and clinical hours. The benefits to the program are the number clinical hours and variety of clinical sites offered. UMKC gave me the opportunity to visit several health-care facilities for the specialties within our program. For example, UMKC has clinical rotations for pediatrics, community health, mental health, obstetrics, critical care and many more.

How has your program inspired you?

It has inspired me to further my education in mental health and receive my Doctorate in Nursing Practice for psychiatric mental health. My future plan is to establish a nonprofit organization to assist those with mental illness and raise awareness within the community. UMKC has inspired me to evolve into a leader in the nursing community.

What extracurricular activities were you involved in at UMKC?

I was involved in a lot of student organizations on campus and held a lot of leadership positions. I was the president of the Student Council of Nursing and Health Studies, vice president of the Student Nursing Association, selection chair for the Mortar Board Honor Society and a mentor for nursing students.

What UMKC experiences are you taking into your professional career?

I hope to take the experiences of mentorship into my professional career as a nursing. I would like to help other students reach their career aspirations to become a nurse because I was also mentored into my position. The mentors at the Multicultural Student Affairs Office helped me to succeed during the first couple years of my college career.