Q&A with Mother and Son Duo, Zoe Sipos and Tim Fiedorowicz

Throughout their lives, Zoe Sipos and her son, Tim Fiedorowicz, have been called to serve, protect, heal, and care for Zoey and Tim people. Their current career path—nursing—is one they both feel solidly connected to follow, and they are wa lking that path together. Jayne Stephens—nursing instructor at Carrington College in Tucson—nominated Zoe and Tim because of their academic excellence, dedication, community involvement, leadership, and career success. It was a pleasure to hear more from Zoe and Tim about what led them to study nursing at Carrington College, and how the experience has been so far.

What did you do before you decided to study nursing?

Tim: I was in the Marines, and then I studied engineering and psychology. I decided psychology wasn’t hands-on enough for me, though, and my mom encouraged me to pursue nursing. I fell in love with it. Some personal things inspired me to study nursing, too: I beat cancer. I also had a mishap during a knee surgery that left me in the hospital for two weeks, and then out of work and school for two months. I decided to apply to the nursing program at Carrington College; I took the entrance exam and passed. That same week, I began a job as a patient care tech in Tucson, where I have continued to work throughout school. It all clicked that this was what I needed to do. I like so much about nursing. For me, it’s about taking care of people. When I was sick, I had great nurses who helped me get through it; I want to be there for people that way—it’s a huge part of why I love nursing. Zoe: I had Tim young, when I was 18. I worked as EMS and then became a police deputy, but had to leave the position because of an illness and an injury. I then became a respiratory therapist (RT), and I was also in the Army National Guard. I was an RT for five years, then decided I wanted to improve my career scope. I looked into nursing. Tim’s experience at Carrington was really good; he has had great instructors, and the program has been great for him. It was hard because we both decided to do this during Covid. It’s interesting timing—I became a police officer right after 9/11, and we are both becoming nurses right after COVID-19. The instructors here have been instrumental in our success; everyone has been so nice, forthcoming, and just great. Two instructors we want to mention are Dr. Amber Carpe, and Professor Mel Castro—but really, everyone has been outstanding.

How did you find the program at Carrington College? What was it like to study during COVID-19?

Tim: When I was first looking, I looked at all programs in the area. We both looked at other programs, but the follow-up from admissions was paramount to anyone else. And especially with Covid going on; they were so helpful. I had started right before Covid, so we got a lot of in-person and hands-on, but when the pandemic hit in Tucson, we didn’t get to take final exams in person. We then had two semesters with no hands-on training, but we were provided a lot of great online resources and still got a decent amount of training. Now we are back to hands-on, and I did have a little more hands-on experience as a tech—I do a lot of the patient care on my own at work. Zoe: I started during Covid, so from the get-go I was online. I only knew classmates through our online experience, so it was odd to see everyone in person! It was a relief to be in person, though. The challenges at home were to stay motivated—you had to really challenge yourself to keep to the rules. I think our cohort is very close because we got to know each other slowly. eeping motivated It feels like forever but you have to keep your eye on the prize, it will be over shortly, our instructors tell us we believe in you, but that encouragement goes a long way when you are ready to quit.

How has it been to be students in the same program at the same time? Has it been helpful to have the support?

Zoe: It’s been great; Tim has been so supportive and helpful. It’s not often that someone gives birth to their mentor—but that’s what happened to me. Tim helps me a lot, and he is further along in the program, so helps me understand what to expect. Tim:  Yes—and on the same note, when we cover respiratory, because of my mom’s experience, it works both ways—I can ask her a lot of things she already knows, and she really helps me, too.

What was your favorite part of the program?

Zoe: I love lab, it’s really fun. We have great resources there; they work so hard to get it prepared for us and keep us on track with technology. I’m doing my clinical work at Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital, and it’s great so far. We’ve been lucky to be with nurses that really want to teach students, and that makes a difference. Tim: Clinicals have been my favorite thing so far; I’m at St. Joseph’s hospital in Tucson. You can learn all the skills in class, but you have to know how and when to apply skills. Experiencing that during clinicals is when it all comes together; clinicals are when you are really understand the whole nursing process.

What advice would you give someone who is just starting the program?

Zoe: Attendance is paramount. But don’t just show up; be present, participate, answer questions, and cement the knowledge you will use a year from now. Timothy: I would tell someone just starting that it’s not going to be easy, but the end justifies the means. You will need a schedule and a calendar. And make time for yourself; make sure you practice self-care.

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