“I have always had a passion for helping others as well as a love for the medical field. Being a nurse allows me to have both,” she said. “The options are endless in the nursing profession, and I have the opportunity to grow and advance my education and knowledge.”
Tepen begins her professional career Jan. 20 in the cardiac intensive care unit stepdown floor at SSM DePaul Hospital in Bridgeton, Missouri. As a nurse, Tepen will be closely monitoring post-heart attack, post-pacemaker implantation, post-open-heart surgery, cardiac drips, heart failure and respiratory failure patients on the cardiac intensive care unit’s (ICU) stepdown floor.
She will cross the stage along with 702 other fall graduates at Southeast on Dec. 14, marking the completion of a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
The experiences she gained at Southeast have helped prepare and guide her for the next chapter of her career. As a student, her clinical requirements included time in a hospital cardiac care unit, and she enjoyed this experience so much, it inspired her to pursue and accept the position at SSM DePaul Hospital.
“I completed an adult health clinical on the Progressive Care Unit at Saint Francis Medical Center (Cape Girardeau), and this floor had primarily cardiac and oncology patients,” Tepen said. “This is where I began to love the cardiac patients. This clinical and practicum helped me see the progression of cardiac patients and how their treatment was helping them. I was also able to gain a lot of experience in basic patient care and communication.”
Southeast’s nursing program combined dynamic classroom time and hands-on clinical experiences that have prepared her for success.
“The classroom knowledge is taught by amazing professors who have many years of experience who can relate to the content we are learning,” she said. “Having the basic concepts and book knowledge is so important to build the critical thinking skills that all nurses need. I was able to use that knowledge and critical thinking skills to apply it to the clinical setting. The clinical professors were also there to guide us along the way and help us develop great nursing care and skills. It has provided me a very balanced nursing education that will be beneficial for me as I move into a professional role.”
Additionally, Tepen was able to hone her leadership skills at Southeast, including serving as representative and vice president for Southeast’s Student Nurses’ Association; student representative for the Nursing Undergraduate Curriculum Committee; and house manager and alumnae relations chairperson of Delta Delta Delta sorority. She served on the National Panhellenic Council executive board as vice president of administrative affairs for one year and as president the next. She is also a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success, Order of Omega, Rho Lambda, Sigma Theta Tau and the Jane Stephens Honors College.
“All of these experiences have shaped me into the person I am today. I have developed so many friendships, memories and connections through these organizations,” she said.
Tepen says she hopes to one day earn an adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner degree and work alongside cardiologists.
“I am looking forward to using all of my nursing knowledge and experience. I have a job doing exactly what I want, so I am looking forward to beginning my career and growing as a nurse,” she said. “Southeast has an excellent nursing program with a great pass rate on boards. The professors have shared their knowledge and experience with me to become a well-educated nurse. I have also been pushed to give it my all and to succeed. The skills, knowledge and challenge will make me successful as I enter the work force in January.”