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College of Nursing

Alumni Spotlight

Janet Carlson, '17 MSN
Nurse Manager, PACU/Endoscopy, Palmetto Health Baptist Parkridge

Janet Carlson

Tell us a little bit about you.
I am the very proud mother of two wonderful children (and one son-in-law), and am a new ‘Nana’ to my first grandchild: Noah! It is completely true what they say about being a grandparent--complete bliss! I was raised a Navy brat and then became a Navy wife for 22 years with my former spouse, which gave me the opportunity to live in many locations, explore, and travel the world making friends internationally. Suffice it to say, I have never met a stranger and I will strike up a conversation with just about anyone. I live and love to play on beautiful Lake Murray and am blessed with gorgeous sunsets each evening. I am happiest when my family and friends are home on the lake with me; we prepare and share amazing meals, tasty beverages, lots of laughter, and precious memories together.

Why did you choose nursing, and why USC?
I chose Nursing as a career because I wanted to be exactly like my grandmother Isabel, who graduated from Massachusetts General Hospital Training School for Nurses in June 1938. She was the nurse who would travel by foot during a blizzard in a small rural town in Vermont to deliver twins when the local physician was impeded by inclement weather. I remember a time when my grandmother accidently sliced the palm of her hand when opening a metal can, she calmly cleaned the wound, and then gathered her first aid kit and retrieved silk suture thread to sew her own laceration closed, I literally thought (and still do to this day) that she was Superwoman! Nursing was the perfect career for me as a Navy mom and wife; I could work any of the 24 hours in a day, 7 days a week and customize my schedule to accommodate the needs of my family. I also was able to re-locate frequently and have a very marketable and valuable skillset that was always in demand, no matter where I lived. Nursing is the best career choice because you can practice in countless settings and always find a new challenge to enhance your professional knowledge while having the privilege to impact and influence people’s lives on a daily basis. There is a reason why Nurses are consistently at the top of the list when it comes to the public’s trust and faith in our profession.

I chose to attend USC CON because I had researched returning to school to earn my MSN, and discovered that U.S. News and World Report had ranked the Masters of Science in Nursing: Organizational Leadership and Development program as #1 in the nation [in 2016]. It does not get any better than that in my humble opinion. I have been given the privilege to homestead (for the first time in my life) in the great state of South Carolina, and I wanted to attend USC for the experience of living, working, and studying in the best college town.

Describe your greatest professional moment.
I would have to say my greatest professional moment(s) where when I was the nurse in charge of care for an actively “stroking” patient in Interventional Radiology, where I was assessing the neurological deficits this person had because of a thromboembolus in the brain. The I.R. team uses imaging to guide the physician in mechanically removing the stroke-causing blood clot that is typically occluding a cerebral artery. Once the clot has been removed, the reperfusion to that part of the brain is amazing to witness, as the patient will begin to regain their neurological function. There are few words adequate to describe the feeling of professional purpose when you have actively participated in saving and enhancing a patient’s life.

Congratulations on being accepted to the 2018 Leadership Columbia class! What interested you in Leadership Columbia, and what do you hope to experience over the course of the program?
Before becoming a South Carolina resident when relocating here in 2011, I was very involved in civic, military, and NATO international affairs while residing in Virginia. I had set a personal goal to complete my MSN and afterwards get “plugged in” to my community and to volunteer my time in the Columbia area. I researched the Columbia Chamber of Commerce, read about the Leadership Columbia program, and decided to apply and interview for this incredible opportunity. As a class we focus on the critical issues we have facing us in the Midlands with topics like: politics and government, education, arts and culture, economic development, finance, health and human services, criminal justice and law enforcement, military affairs, as well as environment and tourism. We also chose a class project to collaborate on and complete prior to graduation. This year we are working with MIRCI (Mental Illness Recovery Center, Inc.) Youth Services to raise funds to paint, furnish, decorate, and landscape a new home for young adult males who are in transition in our community. This skills-building program provides my classmates and I with community and social awareness along with educational experiences to motivate us to make lasting and positive impact on the Midlands. The networking and collaboration amongst my classmates is another excellent component of this program, these friendships will endure beyond our class and project time together.

Why is it important for nurses to develop leadership skills and seek out such opportunities and positions?
Nurses need to continue to remain life-long learners as we evolve with the landscape of healthcare delivery. We are perfectly poised to take leadership positions in our professional and civic lives. Nurses bring a different holistic comprehensive perspective to the table and conversation. Our foundational ability to assess, evaluate, plan, and implement care, prepares us for leadership development and involvement in all levels. As one of the largest professional practice groups in America, we are under-represented in the non-profit, government, and corporate arena. We as nurses have to become involved to advocate for our patients and ourselves.

When you aren't at work, where can you be found?
On the lake! I will have my boat and jet skis gassed up, my cooler all packed with ice and sundries, my two pups, family and friends to go explore and play on the water. I had a custom slalom ski made with hot pink (my favorite color) boots and bindings, so I intend to be the Nana that does not fit into a mold of traditional grandmother-hood. If I am not on the lake I can be found curled up in a chair reading a historical fiction novel or cooking in my kitchen. I also love to garden, which has been a challenge with the deer population in my neighborhood.

What is the best piece of advice you would give to a recent nursing graduate?
The best piece of advice for a recent nursing school graduate is what I recently told my daughter when she graduated with her MSN and passed her NCLEX: believe in yourself! You already possess a great body of knowledge, you have to trust your instincts and know that the one thing that is a persistent worry for new graduates is: the clinical skill set will come with practice. Rely on your peers, mentors, preceptors, educators, and managers, they want you to succeed. Never be afraid to speak up and ask for assistance, clarification, or more training. Us older Nurses like to share our experience and wisdom when asked.