Alumnus found path to nursing as an emergency medical technician
Alec Winpenny (CWR ’22) was on a gap year after high school when he earned his Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certification—and solidified his career path as a nurse.
“After providing direct care as an EMT, I realized that I truly enjoyed working with patients,” he said. “That made me want to go to nursing school and, ultimately, led to Case Western Reserve University.”
Winpenny was drawn to Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing because of its commitment to early exposure to clinical experiences—as soon as within the first few months a first-year student arrives in Cleveland. This early access is “rare,” he said, and CWRU is distinctive in the number of clinical rotations and opportunities it provides to students.
During his time on campus, Winpenny expanded his skills in various intensive care units at Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals, including a pediatrics rotation in a neonatal step-down unit at Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital.
Winpenny also grew his patient care experience through his work as an EMT on campus, serving with CWRU Emergency Medical Service (EMS) since his first year. This student-run organization provides free, first responder emergency medical assistance to Case Western Reserve University students, faculty, staff and guests.
“It was a welcoming and guiding experience that I needed my first year,” Winpenny recalled fondly. “My foundation of nursing knowledge was accelerated by my experience in EMS. Doing basic patient assessments, taking vital signs and talking to patients—all of these [core nursing learnings] were skills that my mentors in CWRU EMS were teaching me too.”
As the quality assurance and safety director for CWRU EMS, Winpenny helped keep the organization running smoothly by assessing trends and recommending interventions to improve quality, patient care and safety, such as monitoring call volume to ensure their providers had adequate equipment. Winpenny said this level of responsibility helped him become a better, more mature leader—as did his education and experience at the nursing school.
“Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing really pushes its students to be the best possible nurses they can be,” said Winpenny. “With CWRU EMS, I could apply these teachings directly to my role in operations and prehospital patient care. The two meshed well together, and it has helped form who I am as a provider today.”
Indeed, that experience has served him well: Winpenny graduated from Case Western Reserve University in May, and has accepted a position as a registered nurse at the medical intensive care unit of The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.