Most nursing students can relate to each other generally on a workload level. But for a few pairs of students at UNLV, their experience is relatable in a deeper way.
At least five sets of siblings currently are in UNLV School of Nursing’s undergraduate program. From knocking out their prerequisites to walking the graduation stage, each pair will get complete their nursing side by side with a built-in “study buddy.” For these pairs, even though they grew up together and got used to each other’s company, the time they spend together now is elevating their relationships.
Abby and Ally Feliciano
Abby and Ally Feliciano originally both began their UNLV academic careers as psychology majors in 2018. But a year later, they became interested in nursing, thanks in part to many shared friends who were in nursing school. “They told us about their journey, their experiences, how much they liked it,” Ally says, “It got us thinking maybe we should head down this path.”
Now in their third semester together in the School of Nursing, the dynamic between the sisters is supportive. “Anytime I have questions about homework or anything in general, I can always go to her room and ask her,” Ally says. “When we're in clinicals together and I need help, I can always rely on her.”
Abby agrees, saying while it took some adjusting during their prerequisite courses, the benefits of studying the same concepts paid off. “We're eating dinner, and we'll ask random questions, holding each other accountable and staying on track,” she explains.
What makes the relationship work for the pair is both share the same work ethic, though they each excel at different skillsAlly is better at memorization and referencing their textbooks, they say, while Abby is adept at connecting ideas and themes together.
Although no longer psychology majors, they still view those studies as a critical component to being effective nurses. “It always interested me in high school, thinking about the way people interact or how people think,” Abby says, “and how you could apply it to the medical field with how you interact with patients and how you see people behave.” Moreover, Abby plans to further their career as a psychiatric nurse practitioner.
Abby and Ally see themselves branching out separately post college. “With nursing, there are so many different paths,” Abby says. “We're getting senses of where we see ourselves going. I don't know if that's going to align, because we have different experiences with our patients and being in the hospital.”
Regardless, both say the time spent together through nursing school is appreciated. Abby says, “I can always count on her for anything. She'll pick me up If I'm down. If I'm struggling, I know she could help me find the answers I need.”
Ally adds, “Nursing school isn't easy, and to have someone who understands what I'm going through, it makes it feel like I'm not alone. It'll be cool to tell our families when we're older what we went through to get where we are.”
Erin and Yeni Shin
Erin and Yeni Shin didn’t plan to become nurses together at first. Erin was living in Ohio working as a digital marketing analyst, while Yeni was working in Australia as an assistant teacher in kindergarten. But neither was satisfied in their roles.
It took separate inspirations to bring them together at UNLV Nursing. Erin was already tiring of her corporate job when accompanied her dad to get a tooth pulled at the dentist, Both she and her dad were anxious, but Erin said their nurse not only improved the mood, but Erin’s future career plans.
“She was so kind; she calmed us down,” she recalled. “I thought, ‘She's interacting with me for five minutes but she made a huge impact. That seems so fulfilling.’ The more I researched it, the more I [thought] this is what I want to do.”
Yeni’s inspiration came from both a childhood interest in being a missionary and the conversations she had with nursing friends about how much they loved their jobs.
Yeni moved to Las Vegas to study at UNLV, eventually convincing her sister to do the same. Now in their third semesters as nursing students, the two have found their groove working and living together, whether it’s assignment reminders or keeping each other accountable.
Erin says the natural sibling competition pushes to be more responsible. “We have the same (nurse) during clinical hours,” Erin explains. “I told my nurse I get competitive, so sometimes if I'm slacking or I don't know where the gowns are, she'd say, ‘Well, Yeni knows where the gowns are. Come on, Erin, do better.’
“Because I'm competitive, I try to get a better score on our tests than (Yeni). It doesn't happen often, but I’ve done it once or twice.”
Yeni says she found new perspective on their relationship by being in the same program. “[It] actually helped me understand my sister more,” she admits. “The way we study and go about life, it's a little different, but I can see more of why we are the way we are and understand why she does certain things, and I do it a certain way.”
Erin adds, “Since I'm an extrovert, I prioritize school/life balance where I don't want it to be all about studying. But my sister, she's a diligent student, and I really admire that. I think she grounds me. If I get too distracted by the fun things I want to do, she'll be like, ‘Hey, you need to focus.’ It feels nice to have somebody I know will always have my back.”
Timothy and Tiffany Chan
Having class together is nothing new for Timothy and Tiffany Chan, both in their second semester of nursing. They’ve been doing it since high school as fraternal twins. Their family encouraged careers in medicine, but the two also enjoyed their experiences volunteering at their church’s kids’ ministry. “Just something about investing in the next generation was something fulfilling for me,” Timothy says. “You watch them find who they are, their passions and hobbies and grow up and be healthy and thrive.”
Additionally, they were drawn to nursing’s numerous options. “I feel like choosing nursing gives me the opportunity to be more specific in pediatrics while also being open to other opportunities, to learn different fields and also focused more on patient care,” Timothy explains.
Sharing the same classes has reinforced the pair’s academically-oriented interests. “We are very strict about how serious we take school,” Tiffany says. “I think it helped us walk on this journey through school together more effectively and smoothly.”
Timothy describes himself as more independent compared to his sister’s extroverted nature. Yet the two make it work when it comes to learning and helping each other get better. “I love studying around people,” Tiffany explains. “I think when Tim grew up, he was by himself, introverted. But honestly, I think it worked out for studying because I needed more guidance and one-on-one teaching.”
Tim adds he learns through repetition and breaking down concepts into ways he can explain them himself, which benefits both him and his sister.
Even though Timothy and Tiffany are only in their second semester as undergraduates, they already have a goal to eventually open up a pediatric office together. “I think it would be rewarding,” Timothy says, “because I get to see my sister and how much she works for her education. We have opportunities to help people together.”
Tiffany adds because they are both personable, they want to provide a positive patient experience. “We want to have an office where it’s like, ‘Let me get to know you, let me find out what's going on,’ instead of looking at your medical history on a computer screen and sending you home with a drug.”
For her, their ambition and desire to give back to their patients is bolstered by being related. “We're siblings, we trust each other with our lives,” Tiffany says. “We're not going to do each other dirty. We know exactly how each other works.”
To that point, Timothy says, “We already have the teamwork, the trust and purpose of what we’re doing. We can have a solid foundation of care and help people through that way.”