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Twins fulfilling nursing dreams together

Published: Monday, December 5, 2011

Updated: Monday, December 5, 2011 19:12

twin nursing majors

Tricia Mullen/Herald

Michele (left) Katie (right) Boelzner, sophomore nursing majors of Maumelle, have known from a young age that they wanted to enter the medical field.

Fraternal twins Katie and Michele Boelzner can been seen together daily outside the Nursing and Health Professions building at ASU in matching scrubs and lab coats, sneakers and ponytails, lugging around books and wearing identical stethoscopes.  

Taking the exact same course load, at the exact same time, these twins seem like two peas in a pod.  But they couldn't be more different.  

The sophomore nursing majors at ASU thought they'd never both be accepted into the department.  The nursing program is notoriously difficult to get into and the likelihood both girls would be accepted was even slimmer in their minds.   

"From the get-go, I had a feeling that if anyone was going to get in, it was gonna be Katie," said Katie's twin sister Michele.  "I had to work my butt off to know things Katie knew naturally.  I was petrified I wasn't going to get in."

When the letters arrived, however, both girls saw the word they desperately wanted to see flashing on the page like lights outside the movie theater: ACCEPTED.

Looking back, it seemed as though the twins were destined to be nurses.  Between years of volunteer service at the hospital and homemade IVs hooked up to baby dolls, the girls were practicing for this career long before they chose it.

"As kids, we both played with dolls.  But Michele—gosh.  Michele practically had an ICU ward in her room," Katie said between laughs.  "She made IVs, feeding tubes out of straws, oxygen masks out of rubber bands, anything she could think of."

Michele agreed and said she always knew that this was what she wanted to do.  Growing up, while other children watched cartoons and dreamed of being Barbie, Michele was watching Clooney on ER and dreamed of running around an emergency room yelling about lacerations and CAT scans.   

Katie's journey to discovering her passion was less obvious than Michele's, but no less practical.  

In the seventh grade, Katie was told to give a speech on what she wanted to be when she grew up and she chose pediatrics because she "knew it paid well" and she would "get to work with kids."

 After that day, Katie continued to investigate more about different health professions, and her interest evolved into a natural, more educated understanding of what it looked like to use God-given smarts to help others.

To further pursue their goals of one day being on the health profession career track, the girls volunteered for five summers at the Baptist Health Hospital in Little Rock, following the lead of their mom, a pediatric nurse, who worked at the Little Rock Pediatric Clinic.

At Baptist Health, the twins loved to sit at the nurse's station and with wide eyes and watch the action unfold.  

They were hooked.  Both girls knew from then on that they would most likely be pursing the same career one day.  

As twins, the competition factor seems doubly intense to some.  For Katie and Michele, it isn't a competition at all.

"We make mostly the same grades.  It's nice because we can help each other.  You'd think we would study together and stuff, but we don't because we study so differently."

Competition and study habits were the least of the girls' worries when they were first accepted into the nursing program.  The difficult program turned out to be expensive as well.  

 "Our first semester alone, it cost our parents around $2,000 in out-of-pocket expenses" said Michele.  

This money covered the girls' scrubs, lab costs, stethoscopes, books, nursing starter kits, and other odds and ends nursing school demanded.  

Katie and Michele recognize the incredible gift it is to have parents who pay for each one's various expenses going through the program.  They also recognize the value in having parents who don't compare them, and who raised them each as an individual.

"Our parents have always done a good job not comparing us, not calling us ‘the twins,' or ‘the girls,' but always calling us by our names," Michele said.  "Our parents gave us that sense of individual identity growing up."

Katie reminisced about past birthdays and how every year, each twin was given a different cake, representing the different life and birth of each girl.  

Despite the fact they are twins, they each have their own personality and are very much individuals.

"I met Katie and Michele last year when I was helping them move into their dorm.  I had no idea they were twins until I asked how they knew each other," said Sarah Knight, a senior social work major from Bartlett, Tenn.  "I played on Michele's flag football team last year, and have always been friends with both girls since we met.  They each have so many different things to offer the world and I can't wait to see how they impact it through nursing."

Michele and Katie know it too.  They find the number of differences about themselves to be sheer irony, offsetting the label of "twins."  

"I'm more girly.  Michele has always been the tomboy," Katie said.  The girls bantered back and forth, calling out things one was good at, where the other lacked, and they laughed.

Michele is more naturally athletic, where Katie is more academically inclined.  Katie is more talkative with those she knows, whereas Michele never meets a stranger.  Michele is more emotional, and Katie reserved.  Katie is what she calls a people-pleaser, and Michele says she just doesn't care.  She prefers to be more outspoken.  The girls come to a conclusive agreement that they "balance each other out really well" both in and out of the nursing program.  

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