Nursing Alumnus Inspired to Help Educate the Next Generation

As a student at Widener, Jeremiah McFarland ’19 developed the leadership skills that he now uses to treat patients and will soon employ to help prepare future health care practitioners.

Jeremiah McFarland, standing outside a hospital, wearing blue scrubs
Jeremiah McFarland
Class of 2019 and MSN In Progress
Bachelor's in Nursing; Master's in Nursing Education
  • School of Nursing
Career Plan: Nurse and Nurse Educator

As an undergraduate student, Jeremiah McFarland ’19 was everywhere on campus.

A C.R.E.W. Leader and Multicultural Student Affairs pre-orientation program leader, he helped Widener’s newest students acclimate to campus. Jeremiah also served as a resident assistant and site leader on the Alternative Spring Break program. 

“These many leadership roles taught me time management, and how to work with people who have different viewpoints. And it taught me my leadership styles, my strengths, and areas where I can grow,” said Jeremiah. “I began to learn how to pick myself up when I failed, which was an important lesson especially being in health care.”

The nursing alumnus uses those lessons every day as an acute care nurse at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. And those lessons became even more vital in April 2020 when his unit began treating patients for the then largely unknown coronavirus.

“I was terrified. I was treating patients for a virus no one knew anything about,” said Jeremiah, who eventually contracted COVID-19 himself and was hospitalized before recovering. 

Jeremiah is also using his leadership abilities to help prepare the next generation of nurses. He works closely with nursing students on his hospital floor. And, inspired by his Widener education and professors’ faith in him as a born teacher, he has decided to return to his alma mater to pursue a master’s degree in nursing education while continuing to work full time. 

Widener has made such an incredible impact in my life. I bleed blue. — Jeremiah McFarland '19

Inspired by his Professors

Jeremiah credits the School of Nursing for setting him up for professional success. Through the rigorous coursework, clinical rotations, and professors who were also mentors, Jeremiah gained the “courage and knowledge I needed to be able to be effective and speak up for my patients. When I’m in a patient’s room, assessing and giving medications, I hear my professors’ voices from lectures. They’ve made me the best nurse I could possibly be and continue to grow into.”

Inspiring Future Nurses

Jeremiah wants to pay his educational experience forward and help ready the next group of nurses. While nursing is a still female-dominated profession, Jeremiah is hoping as a practitioner and educator, he can inspire other males to enter the field.

“It’s good for young guys to have someone to look up to,” he said. “To even attempt to lead a newer generation into health care is courage in itself, to be able to open their minds.”

Expect the Unexpected

Life is full of twists and turns; the last year has certainly brought that into perspective for Jeremiah. He has grappled with COVID-19, both professionally and personally, dealt with personal loss, and, as a Black, gay man, found himself deeply impacted by incidents of racial and social injustice in the country.

But these struggles have helped Jeremiah – the natural educator – craft a sage piece of advice for Widener students: “It’s OK not to have everything figured out. Be patient with yourself, expect the unexpected, and try to keep a positive outlook.” 

Career Plan: Nurse and Nurse Educator

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