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Michael “Misho” Stawnychy, BSN, RN, full-time graduate student in the Adult and Gerontology Nurse Practitioner Program at the University of Pennsylvania

November 2012

Q. What inspired you to become a nurse?

A. Years ago, I worked in documentary filmmaking and wanted to find a way to become more involved in helping people through difficult times. I started searching for something that would be more fulfilling and allow me to wear multiple hats, and that’s when I found nursing.

Q. What part of your current position do you enjoy the most?

A. I’m currently a full-time master’s student at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and work part-time on two research projects. Once while working in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), I was able to assist and intervene in tenuous circumstances, but found that some of the patients could have avoided an ICU stay all together if we had better primary care. This drove me to continue my education as an Adult Gerontology Nurse Practitioner, which enables me to work with heart failure patients through motivational interviewing. I feel success and fulfillment when I can help someone care for themselves in a better way and possibly avoid a hospital readmission.

Perhaps above all, I feel privileged to be involved and to help patients and their loved ones through some of the most challenging times in their lives.

Q. How has the Promise of Nursing scholarship impacted your overall nursing career?

A.With the help of the Promise of Nursing scholarship I was able to continue my studies full-time and stay on-track to graduate with my cohort. It also allowed me to explore areas outside of the nursing core curriculum, such as health policy and research.

Q. What advice would you give to other students, or potential nursing students, regarding scholarships or the nursing profession in general?

A. Don’t miss any opportunities. Check with your school and search online for scholarships so you’re well informed, and be cautious of deadline dates – they can’t be missed! Take advantage of shadowing nurses and nurse practitioners while in school and keep your resume updated. This will not only make you a better applicant but also help focus your nursing career.

Additionally, this advice was very helpful and practical when I first started floor nursing:

  1. It can be overwhelming when you start your first job. You can’t possibly know all the answers, but you can always learn. Make it your goal to review or learn one thing a day. Just like you did in school, keep learning and soon you will know much more than you ever thought possible.
  2. Always think of three things that you can bring into a patient’s room with you. This will give you more time with the patient, cut down on wasteful trips to the supply or medical room, and help keep you prepared.

Q. So far, what has been one of the greatest moments of your career?

A. Once during a motivational interviewing study, I had a heart failure patient who had a very poor prognosis and was being readmitted frequently due to volume overload. Together, we were able to think through her long-term goals and apply them to her current situation. Her outlook changed and she began to take control of her heart failure. At discharge she had lost over 75 pounds, felt motivated to care for herself, and for the first time, felt like she had control over her disease.

Misho Stawnychy was recently interviewed for a Johnson & Johnson ennTV video commemorating the 10th Anniversary of the Campaign. To view the video, visit

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