Always a Nurse at HeartKathryn Zeoli, BSN ’75, MD ’79, admits that she “wasn’t the easiest student” when studying nursing at the University of Miami in the early 1970s. “I was always questioning everything,” she recalls. “So one of my nursing instructors suggested that I consider going to medical school after getting my nursing degree!”

These days, with so many advanced nursing education options available, such a conversation might never take place. Still, Zeoli doesn’t second-guess her choice. Perhaps that’s because, even though she is now a dermatologic surgeon, she still considers herself a nurse. “Once a nurse, always a nurse,” she says. “I take care of patients with an empathetic, whole-person approach. I just happen to have an MD after my name.”

After earning her BSN, Zeoli found that she was extremely well prepared for medical education, and not just because of the premed courses she’d taken while in nursing school. “I was way ahead of the typical medical student when it came to patient teaching, empathy, and technical nursing and medical skills,” she recalls.

In addition to maintaining a busy medical practice specializing in skin cancer in Pembroke Pines, Florida,  Zeoli—married for 37 years and the mother of three grown children—provides volunteer care for youngsters with severe skin diseases at summer camps run by the American Academy of Dermatology. She also donates her time at a summer camp for children with special needs and HIV-positive children run by classmate Joanne Riddick, BSN ’75.

Zeoli encourages anyone interested in nursing to go into the field: “Nursing offers such variety, and dedicated nurses who know what they’re doing receive tremendous respect in the health care workplace.

“With so much change these days in both social institutions such as marriage and the national economy, each of us should gain the skills that will allow us to achieve financial independence,” she notes. “The time commitment is sizeable, but so are the benefits you’ll reap from a good education. So whatever your dream, pursue it.”