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From veterinary medicine to human nursing

Minnesota State University Moorhead student finds new passion in the medical field

Amanda Fish-1
Amanda Fish is a second-degree student attending Minnesota State University Moorhead. She will graduate this summer with a degree in nursing.
Image: Courtesy of Dave Arntson/MSUM
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Amanda Fish, a second-degree student attending Minnesota State University Moorhead, said her journey to her future career is perhaps not typical. It nonetheless has brought her to a place in life that she is passionate about.

Fish currently works as a veterinary technician, but is set to graduate this summer with a degree in nursing. Her goal is to work as a full-time critical-care nurse.

Where, she doesn’t know. But once she has a diploma in hand and with a number of health care facilities in the region, she’s confident she’ll be able to land somewhere. It helps that there remains a nursing shortage with health providers seeking educated, well-trained nurses.

Of her journey, Fish said she first pursued a vet tech degree and has enjoyed the experience, but she often felt a longing for something more. She didn’t know what that was at the time, but as she explored her thoughts further she eventually found out.

“Well, what are the things I like?” she asked herself, and then gave an answer: “I like the medical part of things, the science. It's very interesting.”

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She decided to become a CNA and after about a year of doing that, and while continuing to research the nursing profession and talking with friends and associates, she found what she wanted to do.

“I decided I wanted to go to nursing school,” she said.

Amanda Fish-2
Nursing student Amanda Fish is seen at work at Minnesota State University Moorhead.
Images: Courtesy of Dave Arntson/MSUM

When she found that MSUM had rebooted its nursing program, she felt she had her answer. She applied, took a class, and was accepted into the program.

The rest, as they say, is history. Well, almost.

Fish will graduate in July. After that, the world is her footstool, though she’d prefer to stay close to home. That’s one of the things she likes about MSUM – it’s just down the street from where she lives, she said.

Fish said she likely will always stay in touch with veterinary medicine, but eventually will transition full-time to human nursing. Now that she’s been involved with her degree for a while, she has become even more passionate about nursing as a career.

“I’m just actually surprised I didn't think about it sooner,” she said. “I feel every day, every class I take, every semester, and in the job I work now, I feel that this is the right decision. I just kind of wish it would have happened sooner.”

Something that attracted her to pursue a nursing profession is its diversity. She said it provides many opportunities and areas to work.

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“There's just so much to do in nursing,” she said. “There's so many facets of it. Maybe you think you're going to do one thing, and then you change your mind and you can do something else. It's so diverse. There are so many opportunities and so many areas to work in. … I think that's why it is so appealing to a lot of different people.”

Fish also likes helping people – a good trait for any nurse to have – and she has been able to do that in several capacities so far, including helping with COVID-19 testing at West Fargo Public Schools.

As if she didn’t have enough on her plate, Fish also is the current president of the university’s Student Nursing Association. This past fall the association hosted an event to make quilts for World AIDS Day. To customize her quilt, she and her team got to know an AIDS patient and dedicated it to him.

Carol Roth, associate professor and co-chair of the School of Nursing and Healthcare Leadership, said Fish’s “passion for the university, community, fellow students, and nursing as a profession is very evident. She is caring, service oriented, willing to work with others to complete a common goal, responsible, compassionate, ethical, always thinks of others first, and has a sound moral compass.”

All are qualities needed to make a great nurse, she said.

“Amanda will be a great nurse because she understands that nursing is more than just a job; it is a profession,” Roth continued. “When I imagine the type of nurse I would want to take care of me or my family member, I think of Amanda.”

For others considering a nursing career, Fish recommends MSUM, saying it is an exceptional school with a qualified and diverse staff of instructors. She looks forward to graduating and becoming a full-time nurse, knowing it is right up her alley being able to help others.

“I think nursing is a very welcoming career,” she said. “It's about helping people. That's very general, but I think there's great reward in going to work every day helping people, whatever it is. There are so many facets in nursing. You can be a public health nurse, you can be an informaticist (developers of communication and information technologies), you can be an ICU nurse. You don't have to work in the hospital at all. You can do telehealth.

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“All of those reasons are why I would recommend nursing and why I recommend attending MSUM specifically; we have people from other countries coming to MSUM because of its programs. … They choose it because of the program and, for whatever reason, they come from a very long way away.”

Andrew Weeks is an award-winning journalist who has reported for a number of newspapers and magazines. He currently is the editor of Prairie Business, the premier business magazine of the northern plains. The magazine covers various industries and business topics in the Dakotas and western Minnesota.
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