New Viterbo Nursing Grad Gets Fast Start

Wednesday, December 22, 2021
Cassidy Sheehan

Viterbo University nursing student Cassidy Sheehan had one less thing to worry about than most people beginning their final semester of college. Post-graduation employment in her position of choice had already been secured.

Sheehan had been offered a nursing position in the labor and delivery unit at Gundersen Health System in La Crosse upon graduating from Viterbo.

The offer had come in August at the conclusion of a 10-week internship with the organization and five months prior to when she was scheduled to graduate. With Sheehan’s acceptance of that future post, the internship was extended through December.

“I was extremely honored, and I am very excited to start my career in a specialty I love,” she said. “I can’t think of a better career than helping to safely bring new lives into the world and caring for and supporting women on one of best and most special days of their lives.”

Sheehan will be presented with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree at Viterbo’s winter commencement ceremony Saturday, Dec. 18, in the Fine Arts Center Main Theatre on campus. She will start her career at Gundersen Health System upon passing the national licensure exam, tentatively scheduled for some time in January.

“Like every nurse, I want to help people and make a difference in the world,” she said. “I think everyone deserves access to quality health care, and I want to be part of providing it.”

Possessing “a kind smile and enthusiasm that will take her places” according to one clinical site leader, Sheehan has a passion for nursing that was evident to Viterbo associate professor of nursing Mary Burke the day they met.

“Cassidy’s professionalism and nursing knowledge, skills, and abilities will make her a valuable member of the health care team,” Burke said. “She quickly builds caring, trusting relationships with patients and would always set a great example for other students in role-modeling Franciscan and Viterbo nursing values in the clinical setting.”

Growing up in Colgate, Wis., a small town of 300 just northwest of Milwaukee, Sheehan always had an interest in the medical field, and nursing would allow her to explore different aspects of health care.

She began researching nursing schools with excellent reputations and Viterbo stood out on the list. After concluding a campus visit, she came away impressed by the university’s School of Nursing Building and its simulation labs.

She volunteered at Centro Latino in La Crosse as a student, where she taught English as a second language. Speaking the language well but “not quite fluent,” if necessary, Sheehan is able to provide basic communication with Spanish speaking patients until a certified interpreter arrives.

Sheehan said she was supported and encouraged by the nursing faculty throughout her time at Viterbo and the education she received has her feeling confident in her professional abilities.

The internship at Gundersen Health System confirmed her passion for women’s health and was an incredible learning opportunity that will greatly aid her transition from student to nurse in the department.

Sheehan’s family members are “excited and proud” of her achievements. So is Megan Smith, associate professor and interim associate dean of undergraduate nursing at Viterbo.

“It has been an honor to serve as Cassidy’s professor and academic advisor,” Smith said. “Cassidy embodies the characteristics of a Viterbo graduate while demonstrating a holistic nature when caring for her patients. She is motivated and kind and will be an asset to the profession of nursing.”

Sheehan also “fell in love with the area” and the countless outdoor recreation opportunities it offered, including her favorite past times of hiking the bluffs and other trails and enjoying the Mississippi River.

Another longtime interest of Sheehan’s will serve her well as a nurse — Spanish. After studying the language throughout the high school, she chose to minor in Spanish at Viterbo.