One of the aspects of Penn that I am most grateful for is the opportunity to explore nursing through many different experiences. These experiences I have had are what sparked my interest in neonatal nursing beginning in my freshman year. My developed passion has pushed me past boundaries of exploration and has inspired me to become the best nurse possible.

The first experience I had with neonatology was through the Community Champions Baby Friendly Program. In this program, a few nursing students would go to the HUP Intensive Care Nursery (ICN) and teach discharge information to parents before they left with their babies. In the other time we had, we would also cuddle the babies, read to them, and occasionally help the nurses with small tasks. Through these experiences, I became more comfortable in the ICN and with parents. I witnessed a side of being a nurse that I had never understood before. And I was sold.

In a project later that semester for NURS 102, I had the chance to interview a neonatal nurse practitioner. After asking some of the questions I had from my time in the ICN and from numerous online searches, I was even more passionate about this nursing specialty that I was exploring.

Later on, at the beginning of my sophomore year, I was able to begin a research opportunity with Dr. Elizabeth Foglia at HUP. Research had never been particularly exciting to me, but I saw it as an opportunity to learn more about this field that so interested me. I wanted to know more, see more, and experience more. Being a part of this resuscitation research team has kept me asking questions about neonatology and where I can go as a neonatal nurse or nurse practitioner.

My experience has culminated with my NURS 215 clinical. This is the first clinical we have as traditional BSN students, and I was eager to be in the hospital and have the hands-on experience that we couldn’t get from a lab or lecture. On my first day, I was in the labor and delivery room seeing my first live birth. Life being brought into the world was the happiest thing I have ever seen. I finally saw the babies I had been learning about through every experience, in their first moments. After the tears of happiness, I had a moment of extreme excitement for this path, my now increasing passion. I am so excited for where the nursing journey is going to continue taking me, and I am so grateful to all of the opportunities at Penn for sparking this fire inside me.”

– Charlotte Cecarelli, Nu’22
University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing