Nursing Student, Track Athlete Finds Her Fit Through Tiny Tusks Program

Nursing student and Razorback track athlete Quinn Owen.
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Nursing student and Razorback track athlete Quinn Owen.

Eleanor Mann School of Nursing student Quinn Owen plans to specialize in neonatal or pediatric care after graduation. The U of A senior is also an athlete. So earning clinical hours through the nursing school's Tiny Tusks program has been the perfect fit.

"I enjoy interning for Tiny Tusks because I'm given the opportunity to provide for an underserved community in the world of sports fans — mothers and their little ones," she said. "We get the chance to provide a space for moms to breastfeed, pump or simply escape the heat and noise of Razorback Athletics events so that they can be part of the live action with every other Hog enthusiast."

Tiny Tusks offers a clean, private space for parents at home football and basketball games. Owen and fellow nursing students share education about breastfeeding and infant support. They also engage older siblings with face painting, crafts and other fun activities.

The program has even influenced Owen's nursing school projects. She created a pamphlet about the benefits of breastfeeding during the pandemic to hand out to parents. And she's working on a literature review with co-intern Brianna Purser about the barriers to breastfeeding in neonatal intensive care units. "After spending time in the NICU for clinical and seeing how vulnerable NICU patients are, I wanted to know more about what deters people from breastfeeding their babies who have been admitted," she said.

Owen also has a personal history with NICU babies. She has three younger siblings, two of whom spent their first months in intensive care.

"Though I was young, I remember how stressful that time was for my parents," she said. "To this day, my mom and dad rave about the amazing nurses who cared for my little brother and sister. The nursing profession encompasses all that it means to live with a servant's heart, and I can't wait to be inspired daily by those who work with and around me."

If there's anything that rivals Owen's dedication to nursing, it's being a Razorback track and field athlete.

"Track has been a huge part of my life ever since I first discovered my affinity for the sport my freshman year of high school," she said. "I had been a soccer player my whole life and never knew all that the world of track had to offer. I soon retired my soccer cleats, picked up a pair of racing spikes and never looked back."

Owen likes how the sport showcases and challenges the physical capabilities of the human body. "It's the ultimate test of your mental toughness and emotional discipline," she said. "When you train, you're not just training to beat other people or other teams; you're preparing to better yourself and your teammates. I think that's what I love about track so much, the community.

"It's true that we each have that competitive spirit. We each want to win or run a personal best time. But, above all, the Razorback track team competes for each other."

Of course, it's been a challenge to balance nursing school and competitive running. Each is demanding on its own.

"Every single day looks different, so constant communication with my coaches and instructors to accomplish all that needs to be done in a day is key," she said. "While my schedule is a bit of a juggling act, I wouldn't trade the experiences that the nursing program and the athletic program have given me. I've grown so much as an individual."

Owen said the hectic schedule would undoubtedly serve as excellent preparation for life's next chapter, which begins soon. She'll graduate from nursing school on May 14.

The native Texan said she'd like to spend the first few years of her nursing career in a hospital setting, learning about the care of little ones. Ultimately, she'd like to pursue a Doctor of Nursing Practice and care for families who live in healthcare deserts far from large cities. "Developing a primary practice in an area with limited access to health and wellness services is the ultimate dream job," she said.

Owen said her dream life would include settling down on a big ranch someday. "I don't have the slightest knowledge about owning and operating a ranch, but who says I can't learn?"


This story is the latest in a series called the Dean's Spotlight, featuring outstanding students in the College of Education and Health Professions. Visit COEHP's online magazine, the Colleague, for more news from the six units that make up the College. Visit the Eleanor Mann School of Nursing page for more information on COEHP's various nursing programs.

Contacts

Shannon G. Magsam, director of communications
College of Education and Health Professions
479-575-3138, magsam@uark.edu

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