Julie Picking '19

Bakersfield, CA
Nursing@USC Student and Student Ambassador

What is your current position?
Nursing@USC Student and Student Ambassador

Where are you from?
Bakersfield, California

Tell us about yourself.
I got into nursing because of 9/11. I was in school to become a missionary, and I watched the towers fall. I remember watching EMS crews and pictures of the devastation. It became obvious to me that there’s a huge need here in America. I felt this overwhelming desire to help people in my community. Nursing just seemed like such a practical fit to care for people. My nursing background is in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), the emergency room (ER), trauma and critical care transport. I graduated with my Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2006.

However, I am not only a nurse. I am a single mother of two lovely boys, who are 12 and 14 years old. I have homeschooled my kids for the last six years. Now they see me study alongside them and pursue my dreams and passions. My great hope is that they will follow their dreams and believe in their abilities.

Why did you decide to earn your Master of Science in Nursing?
I wanted to serve my community in a different way. The acute care setting is wonderful, and I have loved it, but I look forward to teaching and guiding patients and families to help keep them out of the hospital. We will always need acute care, but my work in the ER showed me that so many people come because they can’t get in to see their primary care provider.

Why did you decide to pursue your degree with Nursing@USC?
Living in an impoverished area with limited resources can be challenging. Learning to collaborate to optimize care for individuals and the community at large is very important. Nursing@USC’s focus on the social determinants of health and approaching care from a social work perspective is incredibly valuable.

Do you attend Nursing@USC part time or full time?
I attend Nursing@USC on a part-time basis.

What excites you most about the program?
What doesn’t? The instructors are amazing. The other students that you work with are so diverse. Our unique platform allows us to learn from different regions, specialties and experiences. We all have something unique to offer to one another and help make each other better.

Is there a course you have particularly enjoyed? If so, why?
Assessment 502: The live sessions with my instructor were so helpful. She was incredibly practical and offered tips to help organize our assessment and how to practice various parts of certain exams.

Clinical 505: I’m really enjoying my clinical experience. But I’m surprised that I enjoy the weekly live session. It’s wonderful to hear the other students and what they have to say. We have a chance to learn from one another, discuss our experiences and debrief.

In your opinion what is the best thing about earning your MSN online with USC?
It’s the perfect hybrid program. Our lectures are recorded so we can watch them over and over. We have live discussions with our instructors and a core group of students. Also, when we take our exams, we are held accountable through a proctoring system. This allows us the opportunity to earn our degrees from a prestigious university without having to relocate our families.

Tell us about your on-campus intensive (OCI) experiences.
It was amazing getting to be a part of the Trojan family. Our instructors were incredibly warm in person, as well as nurturing and supportive. They held us to a very high standard, but we knew that we had their support. The kind of camaraderie and family that was created during our OCI has carried on through the program, and we are a very close class.

Is there a particular professor or faculty member that you have especially enjoyed working with?
Everyone has been especially amazing. But there’s always that one instructor who challenges you to be better and holds you to a higher standard; for me, this is Dr. Granger. She is as tough as nails, but she’s also very loving. She wants us to do well, and she’s hard on us because she knows that it matters. Dr. Zappas has also encouraged and guided us through our first semester. She’s been wonderful offering guidance, wisdom and a listening ear for our many questions.

Tell us about your clinical placement experience thus far.
Clinical has been an exciting experience. It has been an adjustment going from being a bedside nurse and preceptor, feeling competent in my area, to starting all over again as a student provider. It’s a very different way of thinking and prioritizing. But my preceptor has been very gentle yet firm in her guidance, helping me transition and embrace my new role.

After graduation, what is next for you?
I look forward to clinical practice. I would also like to become a nursing instructor and emulate some of my wonderful professors here at USC.

What else should we know about you?
One of the things I’m most looking forward to after graduation is getting to go on medical mission trips again. I’m looking forward to bringing my kids with me and sharing with them the dream and vision for serving others locally and abroad.