The path to healing

Srinya Julie Sukrachan overcame many hurdles on her way to becoming a nurse. Now she’s using her UW degree to serve others.

Srinya Julie Sukrachan, ’14, ’18, spent way too much time in the hospital as a child. But when she donned her scrubs and walked into Swedish Hospital as a registered nurse this past August, she was overjoyed. The intervening years had changed her life — and her perspective.

Sukrachan with her father, Chanchai

Sukrachan with her father, Chanchai

After being diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis at age 10, Sukrachan began a rigorous course of treatment that required regular hospital visits. Following years of medication adjustments, she finally went into remission. But by then, she was visiting another hospital for a different reason: Her father had been diagnosed with colon cancer. He passed away when she was just 15.

Sukrachan knew she wanted to pursue a career in health care so she could make a difference in the lives of other patients and their families, but she didn’t know where to begin.

Charting a course

The summer before her senior year at Roosevelt High School in Seattle, Sukrachan spent a week at UW Nurse Camp. A free program supported by philanthropy and run by the UW School of Nursing, the camp introduces the possibility of a career in nursing to a small cohort of high school students from underserved and underrepresented backgrounds.

“It was inspiring to be around students who looked like me and had ambitious goals,” Sukrachan says. “We got certified in CPR. We listened to heart and lung sounds on high-tech simulation mannequins. We got to shadow nurses at UW Medical Center. At the end of the week, I knew I wanted to be a nurse.”

With her goal firmly in mind, Sukrachan set off to attend the UW. She took prerequisites for the major. She started working in the office of a chronic pain management clinic to bolster her résumé and gain experience in the field — and every year, she returned to Nurse Camp as a volunteer and mentor.

But when she applied to the School of Nursing as a junior, she wasn’t accepted. The following year, she applied again and got the same result.

“I was really confused and frustrated,” says Sukrachan. “But in the back of my mind, I thought, ‘I’m not getting in for a reason. They’re not going to admit me if I’m not ready for it.’”

Sukrachan served as a volunteer coordinator at UW Nurse Camp for two years.

Sukrachan served as a volunteer coordinator at UW Nurse Camp for two years.

Third time’s a charm

Sukrachan went on to graduate from the UW with a degree in medical anthropology and global health in 2014, but she continued to seek out the mentorship of Carolyn Chow, co-founder of UW Nurse Camp and then the director of admissions and student diversity at the School of Nursing.

“She helped me reflect on why I didn’t get in and what I could work on,” says Sukrachan. “With her encouragement, I became a CNA [certified nursing assistant] and started working in an assisted living home. It really helped me figure out patient care from the nurse’s perspective.”

After spending a year working and attending workshops at the UW to sharpen her application essay, Sukrachan applied to the School of Nursing a third time — and got in.

“Getting patient experience alongside a nurse practitioner made all the difference for Srinya,” says Chow. “She fully understood what kind of relationships she wanted to have with her patients, and she was one of the strongest applicants.”

One of Sukrachan’s first days on the job as an antepartum nurse at Swedish Hospital

One of Sukrachan’s first days on the job as an antepartum nurse at Swedish Hospital

Serving others

With the help of several scholarships, Sukrachan could fully embrace her student experience the second time around. “That support definitely took a huge burden off. I didn’t have to work my first year, so I could focus on my studies,” she says.

Sukrachan also took on the role of volunteer coordinator for Nurse Camp for two years and co-founded Future Nurses Club, a registered student organization that provides pre- and current nursing students — especially those from underrepresented and underserved communities — with advice, networking opportunities and tips on the application process.

“It felt so right,” says Sukrachan. “We had just finished volunteering at Nurse Camp, which provides amazing opportunities for high schoolers. We thought, ‘Why can’t we do the same for minority, low-income students at the UW who want to get into our program?’”

Says Chow, “Starting a student organization like Future Nurses Club takes considerable work and commitment, but Srinya was focused on giving back. She’s a true role model.”

Today, Sukrachan is an antepartum nurse at Swedish Hospital’s First Hill campus, caring for women with high-risk pregnancies. She spends even more time in hospitals than she did as a girl, but now there’s nowhere else she’d rather be.

Support the nurses of tomorrow

UW Nurse Camp is a free weeklong day camp that increases access to the field for underrepresented and low-income high school students. By supporting the camp, you can help students like Srinya Julie Sukrachan explore a nursing career.

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