Informational Interview


I conducted my interview with Ruth Ivcic, RN.

Why did you select this individual to interview?

My whole life, I knew I wanted to help people. Every since I was young, I had dreamed that after college I would pursue a career in pharmacy, stereotypically working at a CVS or Walgreens filling patient prescriptions and counting out pills. It was not until my freshman year of college that I had a sudden change of heart, and completely removed myself from the idea of pharmacy before picking up a second major in psychology (in addition to biochemistry) and switching over to the pre-medicine track. However, I am still not really sure that I want to pursure medical school post-graduation, because I have absolutely no idea what I want to specialize in or even what capacity I want to help others. One option to work in the medical field without becoming doctor is to become a nurse, which led me to interview my aunt Ruth Ivcic, who is an RN in Berea, OH. I distinctly remember her taking care of me when I burned my hand on a fire during one of our family gatherings, and how calm she seemed while knowing exactly what to do. She has alternated between a few hospitals in her thirty years of nursing, so I figured she would have a laundry list of experiences over the diversity of several different environments. I was eager to learn more.

Describe the major responsibilities associated with their current role

Her job has many duties. Not only is she responsible for administering patient medications and monitoring their vitals, she is responsible for communicating with other members of the healthcare team and keeping records in order to reference later on. All facilities run slightly different according to their size or patient base, so there were times where she felt overwhelmed. “Next thing you know, you have three different patients each pounding their call button and you still have to check on four other patients before you can get to them”. Because the job is very hands on, registered nurses truly need to have patience and understanding. As anybody who works with the public can tell you, sometimes there are simply nasty and rude people, but you have to be able to keep your cool and provide service with a smile on your face regardless. When asked about the outlook for nursing in the future, she responded “Yep, we’ll still be here”. With the numerous technological advances and focus on health, people are living longer, and there will always be a need for nurses to assist those who need it. Though technology can help monitor vitals and even administer medication, they will never be able to mimic the care the a real-life nurse can deliver.

Discuss how the person prepared for this role, and if they provided you with any advice as what you might be able to do to prepare for a similar career

When asked about other possible career options available for somebody training to become a nurse, she simply responded “Not many”. Because healthcare is very specific both to patients and professionals, in addition to the constantly changing technology and advancements, committing oneself to nursing does not allow for much variability. The information learned could easily propel a career in emergency response or even going on to medical school, but becoming an RN does not provide any shortcuts to the other professions. She advises those going into medical based careers to be prepared to never stop learning. There will always be new methods and improvements to learn, and while practicing you are required to take X amount of hours of supplemental education to ensure you stay an informed professional. Also, she says not to worry too much about the difficulty. “If it is something you love and truly feel connected to, don’t worry about it”. Even though there were times she was definitely shaken up, she knew she wanted to become a nurse, and her drive helped her push through into the career she loves today.

Summarize any insights from the interview that might be helpful in your academic or career preparation

After the interview, I definitely had a new found respect for nursing. After switching to the pre-medicine track, I had become hyperfocused on becoming a doctor and what was I going to do about med school and what if I didn’t get in? I let all of these questions haunt me until I finally realized everything will work out. Her commitment to her passion gave her the strength to become a nurse, and I feel a similar drive will help me to achieve my goals. Even though I do not think nursing is something I personally would be good at or want to pursue, talking to her about her experiences was certainly interesting, and listening to somebody who loves what they do talk about their experiences is inspiring. I was feeling a bit burnt out before interviewing her, but she helped me remember why I am here at school, and that I need to continue to work hard to get where I want to go.

Major Service Project


For my major service project, I chose to devote my time to the Wexner Medical Center right here on campus. Both during the fall semester and during the spring semester, I served weekly two-hour shifts assisting the staff at the hospital. In the fall, I spent my time working on Dodd 4, the stroke and rehabilitation floor. There, I assisted the nursing staff by helping to stock patient rooms with fresh linens, restock the fridge with orders from over the weekend, and ultimately carry out any miscellaneous tasks that needed to be taken care of. In the spring, I volunteered my time on 11E Doan at University Hospital, the geriatric floor. There I again helped stock patient rooms with fresh linens, but I also helped with discharges, preparing patient rooms for new arrivals, and helping to restock gloves and empty sharps containers.

As a result of this experience, I not only helped the thousands of patients the medical center sees every year, I also learned a lot about myself. First semester, my shift was on Monday mornings from 6:30AM – 8:30AM. The first couple of weeks, I showed up to volunteer extremely tired and out of it, because I simply did not realize how much I dislike waking up early. However, after my short adjustment period I quickly adapted and waking up was no longer an issue. I finally had the energy to give everything I had to my shift, and that is when it started to get better. As a result of this experience, I realize now that you truly get back what you put in. In the beginning, I found it hard to effectively manage my time and my work did not feel rewarding nor satisfying. Once I adjusted, I had so much more energy to actively engage patients, get me work done faster and more efficiently, as well as actually enjoying myself. If I wouldn’t have adjusted my mindset and gave the experience my utmost attention, I would have robbed the patients as well as myself of the amazing service I was able to provide.

As a direct result of my service, the community on Dodd 4 and 11E Doan certainly approved. As a volunteer, I was able to attend to “minor” tasks and responsibilities, which freed up time for the doctors and nurses to respond to patients in active need of help. In between my duties, I also got to socialize with the patients, and I could instantly see how much my company affected them. Unfortunately, a lot of people end up in the hospital and either don’t have family nearby or simply don’t have anybody come to visit them. It was easy for me to sit down and listen to them talk, or watch TV with them, and it truly made a difference in their stay. So many patients thanked me for keeping them company, and I got to hear plenty of amazing stories from so many people of different backgrounds and experiences.

One person in particular that left a strong impression on me was my supervisor at 11E Doan, Michele Hardgrow. Aside from training me during my first several shifts and making sure I was comfortable with my environment, she would always make sure I knew what I had to do. I knew that riding the elevator the the 11th floor every Friday, I would soon be greeted by her warm smile asking me how my week went. In addition to my interactions with her, she was also in charge of the staff on the eleventh floor, and she was always on her feet making sure everything was going well and everyone was on task. Seeing her excel in her environment reminded me that there are people who simply go above and beyond what is expected of them, and what a positive impact that it has on others. She created a such a strong sense of community on the eleventh floor, and I am glad I got to experience that.

Overall, because of this service experience, I am more comfortable in my ability to help and interact with others, as well as understanding what I am capable of and when I need to ask for help. I realized that you truly do reap what you sow, and when you give something your all, you can expect wonderful returns on your investment. For most of my life, I viewed service as “work” necessary to achieve other goals, but I now realize that service can be and is enjoyable when you put in the effort and have fun with what you are doing.

Year in Review

As the academic year is coming to an end, my second year at The Ohio State University has been a wild ride to say the least. Tackling 17 credit hours divided between organic chemistry, biochemistry, and physics definitely demanded more of me than I anticipated. However, amidst the many hours of coursework I inadvertently scheduled myself for, I did find time to enhance my extracurricular involvement here: I got involved with Inspire OSU, a student organization that meets weekly to take on a variety of different simple service projects that benefit a variety of different groups. I enjoyed it so much that I ended up applying to the executive board, and I am currently training to take on my position “VP of Social Media” for the 2016-2017 academic year. I also went out on a limb and scoured the Chemistry and Biochemistry faculty database, and sent countless emails before meeting with Dr. Shafaat and talking with her about the research she is conducting here. I’ve started attending her weekly group meetings, and I will so begin training to take on my position as a student researcher in her lab.

While finding a new balance between my commitments, I also was working closely with Crystal Dunlevy, my faculty adviser, in developing my STEP proposal. At first, I wasn’t sure I was going to go through with the STEP program, because first semester it was a very heavy time commitment and I had plenty of other things to worry about. However, Crystal made our meetings fun and engaging, and I actually wanted to go to our events. This semester, we met much less, and she helped me and my group to devise our formal proposals that were due April 1st. As of right now, my tentative plan is to use my fellowship money to go on a Buck-I-Serv trip to Cape Town, South Africa, working with a local mission there for two weeks over the summer to provide food and other services that the locals need.

Unfortunately, because I significantly increased my involvement and responsibilities on campus, I found that I had less time to myself. I simply did not have enough time to balance my extracurricular, academics, social life, and personal health, and because of this, I struggled. I can say with confidence that this past year has beaten me up and knocked me down more times than I’ve ever been knocked down before. I’m still struggling, but I have not been broken yet. I’ve made it through this much, and I’m not going to let the last two weeks get the best of me.

Even though I’ve struggled, I have grown so much as a student as well as a person over the past several months out of necessity. With the level of commitment I now have to multiple organizations and departments, I’ve simply had to grow up fast or get left behind. Compared to freshman year, I have developed immensely better study skills, I am better at prioritizing my assignments, and I am better at making decisions, even at the cost of “missing out” on something else. Also, with all of the hardships I’ve had, I’ve realized how strong I actually am. Looking back, it would have been so easy to simply give up at so many different moments, but I pushed through. And those moments that were so difficult are past me, and have no weight on my situation now. Coming to this realization has definitely helped me cope with stress better, which I was very poor at originally.

Looking forward, I think this past year has prepared me well for my future. I’ve been pushed to my limits and subjected to levels of stress that I didn’t think I would be able to handle, but I’ve made it. Rounding off my second year, I’ve finally begun taking classes pertinent to biochemistry and psychology, which have only reaffirmed to me that I am studying the right field. I still plan on attending medical school after finishing my undergraduate degrees, and I don’t see that changing either.

Overall, I definitely underestimated what I was signing up for this semester. Freshman year was difficult, but I handled myself very well and didn’t have to change my habits all that much. However, this year, I had to change and grow. Quickly. There were plenty of times I thought I was going to crack under all the stress I was experiencing, but I made it through. And after recharging over the summer, I am going to be ready to take on what my final two years here at The Ohio State University is going to offer me, and I could not be more excited.

Leadership Development

I began training to take on the VP of Treasury/Finances for the service organization I am involved with, Inspire OSU. I will be taught throughout Spring ’16 to take on my role this upcoming Autumn.

About Me


Zachary R. Smith

Biochemistry and Psychology Undergraduate

The Ohio State University


Zachary graduated valedictorian from Brunswick High School in May 2014. From his experiences volunteer experiences with the Boy Scouts of America and National Honor Society, he currently volunteers with Inspire OSU, and initiative on campus to commit service to a variety of charities that help a multitude of people. He is primarily concerned with balancing his workload between finishing his two undergraduate degrees, and plans to enroll in the Peace Corps post graduation before pursuing medical school with a specialization in psychiatry. He is actively seeking research opportunities in the field of science and medicine to bolster his experiences and offer his time in a meaningful way.