You won’t feel a thing

Alumna shares her story about becoming a nurse


Hayley Walz

Hayley Walz poses and smiles in her nursing gear after her college graduation

Taylor Chronert, Staff Reporter

From a young girl in Austin to a nurse in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Vandegrift alumna Hayley Walz has seen a lot. Whether it’s blood being pumped out of a baby’s body as new blood is pumped in, or breathing for them using a bag if their lungs aren’t fully matured, she has done it all.

Growing up, Walz wanted to be a nurse. She loved science and lots of nursing classes are science-heavy. 

“My younger sister has type 1 diabetes,” Walz said. “I grew up seeing and getting to know her nurses and always admired their compassionate care and vast knowledge base.”

Seeing the nurses help her sister made Walz want to do the same thing. She took many classes to help prepare for nursing school. In high school, she took an anatomy class as well as a pharmacology class, genetics class, plus working on additional weekly skills, simulation labs, and clinicals. By the time she graduated high school in 2013, she had been accepted into the nursing program at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth.

“Nursing school was pretty tough and I was lucky to have such an awesome support system,” Walz said. “Through nursing school, I thought I wanted to work in labor and delivery and I actually started my career working in postpartum, where I cared for moms and babies right after delivery.

Walz said after doing that for two years, she realized that she was more passionate and interested in caring for babies. 

“It is truly amazing how resilient these babies are and getting to see them overcome obstacles from start to finish. I always babysat in high school and loved being with kids, but never saw myself working with them,” she said. 

Walz is currently a nurse at Children’s Memorial Hospital at Texas Medical Center and works three twelve-hour shifts a week instead of the traditional Monday-Friday schedule. Schneider said that it keeps her on her toes and she doesn’t imagine doing anything else. 

“I love the variety of patients that I am able to care for,” Walz said. “My unit is a Level 4 NICU which is the highest level of care and takes care of the sickest babies including those requiring surgery. Many people think that NICIU nurses get to cuddle babies all day but it is really more than that.”

With COVID-19, even though it doesn’t really affect the younger population as intensely as adults, they are still required to take extra safety precautions.

“Like every other unit, we are required to wear a mask all day long and screened for symptoms and fever every day,” Walz said. “We have also had to conserve our personal protective equipment like gowns, gloves and masks. The newest procedures to isolate babies born to moms with COVID.” 

Walz said she never had an idea of what she wanted to do while growing up, but ultimately decided on nursing.

“Remember that you don’t have to be 100 percent sure of what you want your job/major to be. Tons of people change once they get to university, and that’s totally normal,” Walz said. “Nursing lets me advance my education and career as much or as little as I want to, and it just matches my personality and lifestyle.”