uci school of nursing graduate melanie tramWhen Melanie Tram first came to UCI, she wasn’t exactly sure where her academic career would take her.

“I knew I wanted to go into healthcare, but I wasn’t sure what field I wanted to pursue,” she remembers. She enrolled as a public health sciences major, intending to sort it out later as she learned more.

When she joined a pre-health organization, she found clear direction with the help of alumnae and guest lectures from healthcare workers.

They told her about the various paths a healthcare career can take and provided their own personal insight.

She had a feeling that nursing was the perfect fit and knew it was what she wanted to do with her life.

Witnessing family caregiving

Realizing that also brought back childhood memories.

“It reminded me of when I was growing up. My grandmother had kidney failure, so my mom provided at home dialysis care for my grandmother” she recalls.

“The patient-caregiver interaction between my grandmother and mother was truly heartwarming.”

From time to time, Tram would take on the role herself and give her mom a break.

‘You can literally do anything’

When she had her clinical rotations at UCI Medical Center, she saw the full scope of what nurses do.

“I didn’t realize that nurses did all these things. Before nursing school, I had a very surface-level understanding of the nurse’s role,” Tram says.

The flexibility of nursing was also something she didn’t realize.

“You can literally do anything. If something isn’t for you, you have the opportunity to change to another specialty.”

Assisting socially isolated seniors

In the last quarter of nursing school, the students attend a community health class where they choose a population they wish to serve. Tram chose geriatrics.

“There’s so much we can learn from them,” she says.

As part of her class, she enrolled in UCI’s ASSIST program, which pairs nursing and medical school students with socially isolated seniors.

Once a week, she calls the 60-year-old man she has been paired with.

The calls serve as both a check-in and a little bit of conversation with a senior who may not have much outside contact because of COVID-19 stay-at-home restrictions.

Tram has since left the program, since she graduated on June 13.

The first nurse in the family

Tram, who’s the first nurse in her family, has her sights set on either a step-down unit or intensive care unit (ICU).

Although she’s a little intimidated by the stress of working in an ICU as a new grad, her critical care instructor encouraged her to go for it because of the educational opportunities and the ability to further advance her career.

Eventually, Tram wants to return to school to either become a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA), a nurse practitioner, or a professor of nursing.

However, she’s keeping her options open and taking it one step at a time.