Winter Commencement 2023: Ja'Kia Bullock, School of Nursing

Ja’Kia Bullock

Ja’Kia Bullock says she has always wanted to be a nurse. There was no specific incident that led to that desire. It was just a gut feeling — one that will lead her to accept her diploma from the Traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at the Winter Commencement Ceremony on Dec. 9 in Radford.

“I think I always had this idea in the back of my mind to want to pursue a career in nursing,” Bullock said, “but I never actually had a reason. I just knew that’s what I needed to do.”

Bullock, a native of Williamsburg, VA, worked with her guidance counselor in high school to consider colleges and universities that would help her achieve her dream of becoming a nurse. That search, however, ended abruptly when she visited the first school on her list: Radford University.

“Radford was the first school I toured,” she recalled, “and I actually didn't tour any other schools because I really enjoyed my experience and how it felt being on campus that day.”

Four years later, Bullock said while the program certainly isn’t easy, the hard work she has put in has paid off in many different ways.

“I struggled in my prerequisites, but I was motivated and got great support from the program. I believed that I would be accepted into the program and I was able to overcome the obstacles I faced,” Bullock said. “In the time since, I’ve been able to work with patients and that has confirmed that I chose the right career path.”

Bullock recently completed a clinical rotation in the pediatric unit at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital (CRMH) and said the experience was one she will never forget.

“I’ve been having a great experience on the pediatric unit and my preceptor is amazing,” she said. “She pushes me to do things out of my comfort zone every day and she has been helping me build my confidence as a nurse. I've had so many valuable learning experiences so far.”

In November, Bullock and her preceptor, Carilion Clinic nurse Savannah Ellison, were nominated for a DAISY Award an international honor recognizing skillful and compassionate care provision for patients and families. Bullock helped care for a premature baby that had been born at 28 weeks. The child had been at home after a two-month stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit when she became ill. Her mother took her to a local hospital that transferred her to CRMH for further treatment.

“It had been a long, stressful weekend,” the mother wrote in her nomination. “By the time Monday came, I was so exhausted , but still trying my best to care for her. I met this AMAZING nurse Savannah and her student nurse Ja’Kia. They made sure I had food and ended up taking my daughter for a few hours just so I could rest. I’m thankful for Savannah and Ja’Kia is going to be an awesome nurse as well. They were both so helpful to me and I’m beyond grateful.”

Bullock hopes to work specifically in pediatric emergency medicine one day, but will begin her career in the emergency department at CRMH where she has already accepted a position.

For Bullock, the journey has been long, but rewarding. For prospective and current nursing students following her path, she has some sage advice.

“They should make time to still have fun and enjoy themselves,” she said. “It’s important to study, of course, but mental health is just as important — especially in nursing school!”

Dec 6, 2023
Mark Lambert