When Aaron Snelgrove graduated from Union with a nursing degree in May, finding a job was the last thing on his mind. He already had a dream job waiting for him at Kettering Hospital in Dayton, Ohio, thanks to Kettering Health Network’s new partnership with Union College.
Now, Kettering will hire any Union College nursing graduate and throw in a $10,000 signing bonus—$2,500 for every year they studied at Union.
But for Snelgrove, this job is about more than the money. It’s about the relationships built through internships and preceptorships at Kettering that helped him find the place God wants him to be.
Looking for a calling
Like many college students, Snelgrove wasn’t sure what path he’d take when he started. He had attended another Adventist college, then served a year as a student missionary. Upon returning, he reconsidered his journalism major and signed up for pre-med, pre-nursing and religious studies courses. Then, while helping care for a grandparent with Alzheimer’s, he completed an EMT course. “I wanted something that offered mission and purpose,” he said. “I wanted to do my part in making the world a better place, but I didn’t know what that was.”
One Sabbath, a woman he’d known since childhood encouraged him to give nursing a try—and to check out her alma mater, Union College. To cover his bases, Snelgrove also applied to a second school and told himself that he’d go to whichever college called him first.
In an ambulance headed to a call, his phone rang. It was Union’s nursing program.
Finally on campus, he felt like he was home. “Getting to Union was a long process, but once I got here and met the faculty and the community, I was incredibly sorry I hadn’t given more thought to starting at Union in the beginning,” he said. “I’ve had nothing but positive experiences in every aspect.”
An opportunity for growth
One of the biggest opportunities Snelgrove realized through Union’s nursing program was a three-month paid internship with Kettering Health Network. After the third semester of nursing courses, junior nursing students can apply for the internship which allows them to work alongside a Kettering nurse and gain hands-on experience. Snelgrove’s advisers told him it was a great opportunity, and their relationship-building efforts with both him and Kettering spurred him to apply.
He was accepted for the summer 2017 rotation and found himself in a cardiac progressive care unit working with patients with heart problems. “It wasn’t the area I was most interested in, but it was a God thing,” he said. “Our next semester of school was everything cardiac, so God knew what I needed.”
Snelgrove said he worked with an amazing mentor and preceptor. “All of us interns had preceptors who fit us perfectly personality-wise,” he said. “Mine was a devout Christian who respected my wishes to not work on the Sabbath, and my unit manager also worked with me.”
The Kettering internship was Snelgrove’s first experience at an Adventist hospital, and he was pleasantly surprised. “It was the first time I’d started a shift with a morning brief, worship and prayer with the unit manager,” he said. “Everyone had a like-minded mission in working to improve health and serve God.”
He found that hospital employees and management lived their Christian talk—hosting vespers in their homes, helping interns make life-changing decisions, and pushing them to be their best selves. He also appreciated the way they treated him. “I met godly people there who valued me as an individual,” he said. “For me, the best thing is how they view Union nursing students. They hold us in such high regard that they go out of their way to work with us and help us get the careers we want.”
After returning to Union for his fourth and fifth semesters, the relationship between Snelgrove and Kettering continued to flourish, and he visited Ohio again to make arrangements for future opportunities.
For his final preceptorship, Snelgrove wanted to work in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), but he found the placement difficult to secure. He thought about staying in Lincoln and accepting a preceptorship in an area that held less interest for him. But Dr. Nicole Orian ’04, chair of the Division of Nursing, talked to a contact at Kettering, and they offered him a preceptorship in the NICU as a trial run to hiring him full-time after graduation
This solved his preceptorship challenge and put him on his preferred career track. “The NICU can be a hard place to be, but the unit manager told me to give it a try. If it wasn’t exactly what I wanted, they offered to find me a job in another area,” Snelgrove said. In addition, they extended a job offer to his wife, Rachel (Jorgensen), a 2016 Union nursing graduate. Snelgrove was blown away by the twin offers. “For them to do that speaks volumes,” he said.
New partnership brings more opportunities
Snelgrove was one of the first Union graduates to benefit from a new partnership between Union College and the Kettering Health Network. Nursing graduates who pass the NCLEX-RN exam, have strong references, and agree to work within the Kettering system for at least two years are guaranteed a job at a Kettering Health Network hospital. In addition, they will receive a signing bonus of $2,500 for each year they attended Union as a pre-nursing or nursing major, up to $10,000.
And while Snelgrove was one of the first, the growing relationship between Union and Kettering means he certainly won’t be the last. “I’m excited to be going to a place that puts an immense value on who I am and how I’ve been trained,” Snelgrove said. “At Union, we’re educated in nursing, but we’re taught to treat the whole person and work as servants of Christ. Out of everything else, that makes Union College nursing students stand out.”