Doctorate-Seeking Alumna Leads Dominican Connection To Johns Hopkins

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The nursing career path that nursing graduate Tulsi Patel ’22 chose at Dominican University of California has led her to Johns Hopkins University where, beginning this fall, she is working on her doctoral degree in psychiatry.

Tulsi has not been alone on the path.

Tulsi, already working as an RN in Johns Hopkins’ Meyer 3 Inpatient Psychiatry, is following the footsteps of her older sister, Meera Patel ’19. Meera is enrolled in the mostly online doctorate program at Johns Hopkins while working as an RN at Sutter Health in Burlingame.

Meanwhile, Tulsi’s Dominican roommate, nursing alumna Jenny Yang ’22, is working at Johns Hopkins as an RN in the Surgical ICU Bridge program.

Tulsi, who attended Mission San Jose High School in Fremont, originally planned to be a teacher before turning to nursing while working with special education students through a high school student club.

 “That kind of impact on a person’s life is what I wanted to do,” she says.

About the same time, Tulsi spent a week visiting Meera at Dominican. She got a first-hand look at being a nursing student and a close-up view of campus. That gave Tulsi a greater appreciation of Dominican and its campus.

“I’ve always been one to enjoy nature,” she says. “You’re right in the middle of everything being so beautiful at Dominican.”

By the time Tulsi started school at Dominican in the School of Health and Natural Sciences, Meera had moved to San Francisco for her preceptorships. But Tulsi always felt like Meera was around.

“There was this one marketing banner by Alemany Library and they used her picture for it,” Tulsi says, smiling “Whether it was her friends or my friends they were always asking, `Is that you?’ and I’d say `No, that’s my sister.’ ”

Tulsi minored in Global Public Health, thinking she might join the Peace Corps when she graduated. But the COVID-19 pandemic put a crimp in those plans to travel. Tulsi found her niche in nursing and after a series of clinical rotations she was assigned to a psychiatry rotation her first semester of her junior year at St. Francis Memorial Hospital.

She enjoyed working in the psychiatric unit and collaborating with patients, RNs, and doctors.

“This is it. This is where I need to be,” Tulsi says. “I’ve always been the friend that people go to, and I thought I can do this for a living.”

While at Dominican, Tulsi served as in intern Marin County Jail, worked in Dominican’s Student Health Center, assisted in the simulation lab as a technician, and volunteered as a nursing peer mentor. She even served as a supervisor for Dominican Rec Sports on Sunday hikes.

However, Tulsi’s highlight at Dominican was being asked to speak at the Nursing Pinning Ceremony. The theme of her keynote address was resiliency.

“We went through a year and a half of nursing school during a pandemic, and we were online for some of hardest semesters. Word on the street was there any great expectations for our class because of that,” Tulsi says. “Yet, by the time of the pinning ceremony so many of us had job offers and so many people knew where they were going so it was so special seeing that we all made it through no matter what kind of craziness that was going on.”

Now Tulsi, born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, is living in Maryland. After she passed the NCLEX, she joined the Inpatient Psychiatry/Psychiatric Emergency Services at Johns Hopkins working floor shifts from 8-to-12 hours, sometimes up to 16 hours, doing a job she loves to do.

“The part I like the most is the talking and figuring things out together,” she says.

Ultimately Tulsi wants to become a therapist and she has had many people encouraging her to do just that. Whenever she approached advisors and teachers at Dominican about her intent to pursue a psychiatric nursing career, she received positive feedback and advice.

“It speaks to Dominican that its culture of support is very real, and I still keep in contact with so many people at school. It’s a nice support system and for life,” Tulsi says. “I can believe in myself, and other people believe in me too.”

Above photo of Tulsi Patel '22 in front of Johns Hopkins University Hospital

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