As senior nursing major Kaley Berger completes her final clinical experiences and prepares to enter the professional workforce, her “why” has never been clearer. For the Edinboro native and soon-to-be PennWest graduate, it’s all about helping patients in their most vulnerable moments.
Berger developed a passion for science and anatomy in high school, which prompted her to explore careers in the medical field. Losing her grandfather to cancer and participating in General McLane School District’s annual Relay for Life event solidified her decision.
“I met the most amazing people through that experience,” Berger said of the American Cancer Society fundraiser. “Some of the children really inspired me. They were so smart, and their spirit during treatment was amazing. But at the same time, their innocence made me want to be a voice for them – to advocate for them.”
Driven by a desire to create meaningful, compassionate connections with future patients, Berger – who graduated as one of General McLane’s valedictorians – found her way to Edinboro’s first-class nursing program.
Surrounded by expert faculty and a community of nursing students always willing to lend a hand, it didn’t take long for Berger to know she was in the right place.
“I can’t say enough about this program or our faculty,” she said. “They are always available outside of the classroom. They go above and beyond to help us succeed while maintaining high academic standards that keep us on track.”
She balanced her studies with leadership roles in campus recreation and the Student Nurses of Edinboro club and worked as a tour guide in Admissions. An honors scholar, Berger also took part in unique research, enrichment and public service opportunities.
Though her time as an undergraduate student at Edinboro is coming to an end, Berger, whose grandmothers were both nurses, recognizes that her educational journey is far from over.
“It’s important to be open to learning from other people, whether it’s other nurses, medical professionals or your patients,” Berger said. “We all come from different environments and backgrounds, and no two people are the same. There’s so much we can learn from one another.”
In July, Berger will join a team of medical professionals providing life-saving treatment to critically ill and injured children in the University Hospitals Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. Acknowledging that some days will be difficult, she’s looking forward to making a difference in people’s lives.
“When a patient reaches out to hold your hand and says, ‘Thank you for doing this for me. Thank you for being here. Thank you for listening to me,’ it’s the best feeling in the world,” Berger said. “There are no free passes in this field. It's a lot of hard work. But every day is so rewarding.”
From providing direct care to leading full-scale public health operations, nurses are on the frontlines of administering and evaluating treatment – working around the clock to protect the health and well-being of patients and the public at large. Learn more about PennWest’s top-notch nursing program at www.edinboro.edu/nursing.