Working as a nurse practitioner at Florida’s #1 hospital, Mayo Clinic, keeps Rachel Hannon ’13 on her toes. She works in the intensive care unit caring for patients in the cardiovascular/thoracic ICU and the abdominal transplant/surgical ICU.
“I find medicine forever changing and advancing. No patient is the same. Each patient is unique. We find new information every day,” said Hannon.
Hannon said she has always loved caring for others and chose to pursue a nursing career while still in high school, but finding a college was challenging. She chose JU not only for its highly respected Keigwin School of Nursing, but because the University allowed her to simultaneously focus on her other passion: lacrosse.
“I was the first lacrosse student to graduate with a bachelor's in nursing while playing all four years,” she said. “Jacksonville University is very unique, as many other Division I schools do not provide their student athletes with the ability to successfully do this in four years.”
Hannon holds the program record for draw controls in a single season (131) and led the Women’s Lacrosse team to conference championships three years in a row. She credits her coaches and professors for pushing her to be the best version of herself.
“I remember the professors encouraging me to go out of my comfort zone and take my practicum in critical care which is where I now work. They knew the nurse I should be even before I did,” she said.
At Mayo Clinic, Hannon tried on several different “hats” until she found one that fit. She started at the bedside within a cardiovascular unit, transitioned to the ICU, and eventually moved into a manager role overseeing a team. She missed working directly with patients, though. All the while, she continued her education. She earned a dual Master of Science in Nursing from Johns Hopkins University, a postmaster’s certificate in adult geriatric acute care from JU, and her nurse practitioner license. Now, she’s back to doing what she loves most.
“I moved back into the role of direct bedside care and have absolutely loved it ever since," said Hannon. “I enjoy feeling like I can make a change in other people's lives." Hannon offers this advice to future Dolphin nurses: “Take care of yourself as much as you take care of your patients. Do something that prioritizes yourself every day. It could be a walk, a conversation with a loved one, yoga, working out, meditating, journaling, etc. Just remember to take time for yourself.”