Radford alumna balances nursing career with active family life

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Melanie Schano realized nursing was her calling and decided to take the first step toward realizing that dream when she got accepted to the nursing program at Radford University.

Schano began her college education at Virginia Tech before transferring to RU and ultimately graduating in 2009. Based on the RU program’s reputation, Shano felt transferring from Tech to RU was an obvious choice.

“Growing up in Blacksburg I was familiar with the School of Nursing’s reputation for providing high quality education, not to mention it is one of the top ranked programs in the state,” she said.

Even though Schano has graduated from RU and is now a full-time student with Georgetown University’s online program, she still remembers valuable lessons she picked up at RU. At the time Schano was preparing to finish her senior year while Alan, her fiance at the time, was preparing for deployment in the Army.

“That combined with the stresses of completing a vigorous program was at times overwhelming,” said Schano. Her fiance was deployed to Afghanistan two days before she graduated.

Teachers like Tony Ramsey made the stressful time easier by always being there for Schano.

“To this day, he is one of the best teachers I have ever had,” said Schano.

“The nursing program at Radford emphasizes the importance of professional development,” she continued. “Not only did the program adequately prepare me to sit for the board exam, but I left Radford with a professional portfolio, the ability to write a formal paper worthy of submission to a nursing journal, and the leadership skills to implement practice change at the clinical level.”

After Schano left RU, she immediately moved to Texas where her fiance was stationed in Ft. Hood. While he was deployed to Afghanistan, Schano landed her first job in the emergency room at Scott and White Memorial Hospital.

Once Schano’s fiance got out of the Army, they decided to move back to Blacksburg. Schano started a new chapter in her life by getting a new job working in the ER at Carilion New River Valley Medical Center and getting married.

After about a year, Schano noticed she wanted a change of pace.

“I began working for Dr. Chad Johnston in 2011 when he opened his dermatology practice, River Ridge Dermatology,” said Schano.

Schano decided she wanted to go back to school, and began the FNP program at Georgetown University in October 2012. Schano has continued to work in the dermatology clinic throughout graduate school and is excited to become a provider there after her graduation in June.

“I have grown to love the field of dermatology so much. I can’t imagine doing anything else, and that’s the same way I feel about the people I work with, they have become family to me,” said Schano.

Schano explained it is rare to find some free time from her busy life, but when she does she enjoys fitting in a ballet class, cooking, spending time with family, friends and her pets.

“My family is super supportive, especially my mother, so I feel very fortunate that we live so close,” said Schano.

“I have found that the most difficult things in life are always the ones worth working for. Surround yourself with supportive people; I wouldn’t have made it this far without my family,” said Schano. “The big picture is always overwhelming, just take it one step at a time and before you know it you will have accomplished your goal.” This is sound  advice to anyone who is about to embark on a similar life path.