RN to BSN Student Takes Nursing Skills around the Globe

University of Mount Olive RN to BSN student Ashley Crilly is a shining example of strong time management, drive and perseverance. But her success isn’t just coming from her experience in the classroom and the workplace. Crilly has recently been accepted for a place on a mission trip to Guatemala, where she will provide medical and surgical support to San Cristobal and the surrounding areas.

The acceptance came as a pleasant surprise to Crilly, who turned in her application only three days before the deadline.  She was one of ten chosen from hundreds of applicants to make the team. It’s an amazing opportunity, but Crilly isn’t under any illusions; the trip won’t be a vacation.

“We will perform around 125 surgeries that week, specializing in obstetrics, plastic reconstruction and optical needs. Patients will also be able to attend clinics for non-surgical care, as well as receive follow-up care for surgeries performed during prior mission trips. I will assist as a surgical nurse, a pre and postoperative nurse, and pretty much any other role that I can fill,” Crilly said.

The mission trip to Guatemala isn’t Crilly’s first nursing venture outside of her position at WakeMed in Raleigh. She once participated in a travel nursing position for six months in Manhattan, NY.

“I had been thinking about taking a travel nurse assignment for years and always wanted to go to NYC,” Crilly recalled. “It is a huge, loud, expensive city.  I felt if I could survive there, I could pretty much survive anything. I ended up in the electrophysiology (EP) department at Weill-Cornell Medical Center on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. It was a position similar to what I had been doing for 6 years in Raleigh. I spent 6 months in New York, and it was a truly awesome experience.”

For her upcoming mission trip, there will be 80 members of the medical team made up of physicians and nurses, mostly from Texas. Crilly has not met anyone on her team yet, but she is hopeful that she will come out with new friends and a new perspective on her job back at WakeMed.

“I have this gut feeling that the experience will change me forever. I think that we take for granted the luxuries we have here with healthcare,”Crilly said.  “Going to Guatemala will challenge my critical thinking skills as a nurse, something that often gets pushed to the wayside with the conveniences of civilized medicine.”

Crilly’s expected change of perspective will also come from her upcoming completion of the RN to BSN degree at the University of Mount Olive. The opportunity to return to college was a welcome one for Crilly. The strong ties between UMO and Watts School of Nursing, where Crilly earned her RN was a major factor in her decision to earn her BSN degree.  She also valued the UMO approach to education for working adults, which allowed Crilly to develop her credentials while working around her hectic schedule.

Crilly expects to graduate in May and plans to take a trip to the West Coast for some much need R and R.  As for what’s next for this adventurous nurse, Crilly is not sure.  She only knows that she wants to continue in the field of nursing, and in particular, EP (Electrophysiology), which is her personal niche.  Achieving her BSN, combined with the array of work experience she has developed, will open up new doors wherever she lands next.

The University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The University, sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists, has locations in Mount Olive, New Bern, Wilmington, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Research Triangle Park, Washington, Jacksonville, and in Smithfield at Johnston Community College. For more information, visit old.umo.edu.