The first time I learned about Penn’s coordinated dual-degree programs was the beginning of my senior year when an admissions counselor came to visit my high school. I thought that anyone who wanted to pursue a dual-degree program was a little ridiculous. Isn’t it ambitious enough to attend one of Penn’s four incredible undergraduate schools? Is it really possible to enroll in two schools at once? Has anyone ever received two diplomas on stage during graduation? Well, here I am, a little more than one year later, absolutely loving my Penn career thus far as a dual-degree student.
I am currently a freshman, at both the Wharton School and the School of Nursing, in the Nursing and Healthcare Management (NHCM) Program. NHCM is one of the coordinated dual-degree programs offered at Penn. The other programs include the Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business, the Vagelos Program in Life Sciences and Management, and the Jerome Fisher Program in Management and Technology. As part of the NHCM program, I will receive a Bachelors of Science in Nursing as well as a Bachelors of Science in Economics with a concentration in Healthcare Management and Policy. I am also hoping to dual concentrate at Wharton, but as for that second concentration, I’m entirely undecided. One aspect of my program that sets it apart is the length of the curriculum. While the other coordinated dual degrees are the traditional four years, NHCM is a five-year plan of study. I have not yet decided if I will call myself a junior for two years, or if I will call myself a super senior during my last year here at Penn. I could not be more thrilled to have the opportunity to spend a fifth year at Penn.
I chose to come to Penn and matriculate into NHCM because of the unique opportunities provided through the program. Such opportunities are unparalleled at peer institutions. Wharton is all about applied, hands-on learning, and what better way to learn about and best understand the effects of healthcare policy, as taught and articulated by top professors and researchers in the classroom, than through clinical rotations, in a nationally top-ranked hospital, later that day. It’s not enough just to fill in bubbles on Scantron sheets or write answers when it comes to learning about the best course of action for providing adequate healthcare. It’s also not sufficient to deliver healthcare to patients without understanding the economic implications of such actions.
I’ve always been interested in the healthcare field, but have never been sure of the side in the industry on which I would like to pursue a career. At Penn I can explore both the administrative and healthcare provider roles, without having to compromise a complete, comprehensive curriculum for either education. I still have no idea what I would like to do post graduation. I am continually exploring the different possibilities of working as a nurse and pursuing higher nursing education as well as those in which I work in financial services or healthcare administration.
Outside of academics, I enjoy the tight-knit, supportive community fostered by NHCM. I am one of eight freshmen in NHCM, all of whom have become some of my closest friends at Penn. There are also a lot of great friendships between students in different grades within NHCM. These peers and upperclassmen are often the first people I look to for advice and help with regards to academics and life at Penn as a whole, as everyone is incredibly supportive.
While it may seem daunting at first, the dual-degree experience is incredibly rewarding. I encourage anyone who thinks they might want to study in more than one undergraduate school to act on such interest. Coming to Penn and enrolling in NHCM is by far the best decision I ever made as a high school student.