Interview with Zack Mosley, BSN student and father of two

What should we know about you?

My name is Zack, and I am in my thirties. I have a wonderful wife, two awesome daughters, and in my previous career, I was a military/law enforcement consultant. I have been on multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan where I worked with some amazing people, and I supported law enforcement at multiple jurisdictions here in the U.S. After 10 years of regular deployments and moves to support different contracts, I decided to make nursing my second career. I began this journey by getting my EMT-B certification, which I would recommend to anyone considering a career in healthcare. I am interested in pre-hospital care, emergency medicine, and primary care.

What made you choose MUSC? 

I received my first degree from the College of Ch always wondered who got to go to MUSC; it seemed echelons above anything I knew. Years later, living in Colorado, I applied to MUSC’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) Program. I applied because I knew the school’s reputation and I thought Charleston would be a great place for my daughter to experience (we only had one at the time).

Are you involved in any organizations through MUSC?

My children require most of my energy, but I am currently a student member of the Emergency Nurses Association and the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses. Both are fields that I am interested in pursuing post-graduation, and I learn a lot from the journals and information they provide.

Do you currently work outside of being a student?

Not working during the ABSN has made the academic demands very manageable, but I continuously consider (and subsequently reconsider when the semester’s pace picks up) getting a part-time job.

What are your thoughts on the nursing shortage, and does it affect your plans post-graduation?

The faculty has discussed this topic to varying degrees, but I’ve also done my research so I can be knowledgeable. As far as I can tell, location, population, and metro/rural dynamics have huge impacts on the supply and demand curves for nurses. In other words, many shortages are localized, and there are a lot of them. In this way, it absolutely affects my plans because my family and I could move if we wanted or needed to be closer to family or to take a great opportunity.

What’s been an unforgettable experience thus far?

Professionally: Being able to observe a laparoscopic procedure in the OR. I had no idea what surgery was like in real life (as opposed to what I’d seen on TV), and the experience definitely altered my perceptions.

Personally: I was caring for a patient who had a history of stroke and heart failure; this individual had an MI while I was in their room helping them get settled to eat. Observing the nurses work as a team to get labs, push meds, and stabilize them while continually providing reassurance and easing their anxiety was no easy task. It was yet another moment in my nursing education where I thought, “I really want to be good at this; oh my goodness- we’re saving a life!”

What is the best class you've taken here and why? 

I can’t pick just one, so I’ll give you two: Medical Surgical (Med Surg) and psychology. Med Surg because pathophysiology is one of my primary interests and I had the opportunity to learn about many different disease processes (my clinical instructor was fantastic). Psychology because of my clinical experience at the VA. It completely changed how I approach patient care. My time at the VA taught me that mental health isn’t a set of diagnoses that some patients fall into - it’s a layer of every patient. My psychology clinical instructor also was phenomenal. Then again, I haven’t had an instructor who isn’t.

We’ll be celebrating Father’s Day soon, and you’ve shared that you have children. Has your nursing education affected your role as a father or vice versa? If so, how? 

I think about health and behavior in a much more consistent way now. Before nursing, disease or trauma were incidents that I’d respond to more algorithmically as I was trained in EMT school. As a result of my nursing education, I think I am more compassionate. Don’t misunderstand me - I was compassionate as an EMT, but I didn’t always have prolonged periods of time with a patient. I acted quickly and often got the patient to the ER or hospital where nurses would deliver continued care. As a nursing student, I am delivering care, but I am also building relationships. I get to be more compassionate because I have more time with the patient. This dynamic has changed everything, including my relationship with my children. I find that I observe my children’s behavior, development, illnesses, and health all the time without the algorithms imposed by EMT training. Nursing has affected how I interact with my kids, my experiences when I take them to the doctor, and how I respond to coughs, falls, etc. I would say nursing has made me a more attentive and responsive dad, and I hope one day they’ll say the same.

What does the balance look like between being a full-time father and a full-time student? 

I have to prioritize and schedule aggressively. I haven’t been able to be as involved in student life as I’d like, but it’s essential for my wife and children to know that I’m there for them above all else. Sometimes it means missing milestones and moments, but those sacrifices will enable me to provide and be more present over the long term. I also have to shout out to my wife, Jayne. She worked in healthcare and suggested that I consider nursing. Jayne has kept our family running smoothly during the chaos of prerequisites and nursing school. I couldn’t balance anything or have done any of this without her.

Are your children curious about what you're studying?

As curious as they can be; they’re really young. My 2-year old knows where her heart is and tries to take our dog’s blood pressure with her Fisher Price med kit. I’m willing to bet took that cue from me and not the children’s books we read her.

If you’ve received a scholarship, what has that meant for you? Talk about the impact of receiving that scholarship.

I received the Dean’s 125th Anniversary scholarship last semester. The impact of that hit me recently when my wife and I were reviewing our student loans and the cost of future graduate school opportunities. Seeing how much we currently owe in student loans and how much more it would have been without the scholarship was eye-opening.  These gifts are so meaningful because they enable such a diverse group of people to become nurses, in this setting, under these nurse leaders, and I’m humbled to be able to call myself part of that group.