When you meet Hannah and Kaitlyn Schmidt, it’s obvious they’re sisters. The two have similar faces, the same brown hair, they have the same facial expressions, and they finish each other’s sentences.
Sisters Hannah (L) and Kaitlyn (R)
They also went to college together and decided to pursue a nursing career together. The identical twin sisters are also earning their BS in Nursing degrees together at the University of Colorado College of Nursing through its Accelerated (UCAN) program.
“We weren’t sure if we were going to get in,” Kaitlyn says. “I think the big thing for us is that when we were applying to nursing schools, we had no intention of going together. We weren’t getting our hopes up because the programs we were applying to were very competitive.”
“And we were okay with not going to school together,” Hannah continues. “CU Nursing was the most appealing, so we figured we’d just apply…and we both got interviews.”
Hannah and Kaitlyn grew up in California and earned degrees from Chapman University in health sciences, so coming to CU is the first time they have lived out of state.
“It’s been a much easier transition with having us both come here,” Hannah says. “Moving to a new state has been interesting and hard, but it’s easier to have your best friend here. I think I’m doing better in school having Kaitlyn here, compared to if she wasn’t here.”
Taking the Same Career Path
The sisters knew they wanted to have careers in healthcare, but it wasn’t until May 2022 that they both decided to pursue nursing.
“All of our life choices have been individualized, but it’s almost like we share a brain because we don’t talk about something, and then one day we’re both like ‘This is what we’re going to do’,” Hannah says.
Kaitlyn wanted to go into healthcare after suffering a concussion in high school. She was out of school for three months, and teachers expected Hannah to teach Kaitlyn – even though they weren’t in the same classes.
“All of a sudden, she couldn’t learn,” Hannah says.
“So after that, we took the same classes in high school, and then we decided to go to Chapman together,” Kaitlyn says. “We both individually decided to go into health sciences, so it made sense for us to take all of those classes together as well.”
The sisters got jobs in healthcare after graduating college and thought nursing would be a fun and interesting career path to follow.
“I had been thinking about going into nursing for a while,” Hannah says. “A lot of nurse practitioners at my clinic encouraged me to go into nursing.”
“I liked seeing the different ways that nurses could work, and the different roles they could play. There’s just a lot of different options and flexibility,” Kaitlyn says. “But the main reason we wanted to go into nursing is because we want to help people. I know I want to be that person who was there for me when I had my concussion, so being able to give back in that way is really awesome.”
Preparing to Become Nurses
CU Nursing students and twins Kaitlyn (L) and Hannah (R)
The sisters say CU Nursing’s Accelerated program is helping them get ready for the next steps in their career – including faculty bringing real-life experiences to class or preparing for the NCLEX exam.
“Even if our professors are telling us random anecdotes about a patient, it’s very helpful,” Kaitlyn says. “Our faculty are very relatable, and they want all students to succeed. I also appreciate that they’re not making a nursing career sound scary or daunting or something that’s not achievable”.
“They say, ‘We all did this, but this is going to be hard, and we’re going to help you get there’,” Hannah adds.
One thing that’s helped Hannah and Kaitlyn during the Accelerated program is making friends and finding a good study group. They found one during the first week or two of the semester and now met weekly.
“Everyone in our cohort is great,” Kaitlyn says. “Everyone wants everyone else to succeed, so no one is cutthroat. We all know the program is difficult. So if you don’t understand something, it’s not shameful to say ‘I don’t get it’, and then everyone will jump in and help you.”
Don’t Call Me “Twin”
Hannah and Kaitlyn are identical twins – even though they don’t look exactly alike.
Their parents were told Hannah and Kaitlyn were fraternal twins at birth because they each had a placenta. They say about 30% of identical twins have two placentas. Since DNA testing wasn’t as advanced then compared to now, the sisters decided to get tested in July to find out if they were identical or fraternal twins.
“People would always say we look a lot alike and say we were definitely identical twins,” Hannah says. “So before coming to CU Nursing, we had a big party in July and did a ‘reveal’…and we are in fact identical.”
The sisters say people get the two of them confused every day, calling Hannah Kaitlyn or Kaitlyn Hannah. They say it doesn’t bother them and consider it a compliment.
“If you guess our names wrong, it’s like you’re equating me to this fabulous person I’m sitting next to,” Hannah says. “So I think of it as a good thing. One thing we do not like is when people call us twin and they say things like ‘Hey twin, come here’.”
“It sounds degrading and it doesn’t feel like they’re trying,” Kaityn says. “If you call us ‘the twins’, that’s fine if you’re grouping us together, but don’t call us ‘twin’. We have more identifiers than that.”
A Built-In Best Friend
Hannah and Kaitlyn say people are shocked when they find out they go to school together, have classes together, study, and live together.
“She knows when I don’t understand something, and I know when she doesn’t understand something, and one of us is able to figure out what’s going on,” Kaitlyn says. “So in that way, it’s very advantageous for us to be together.”
Everything isn’t always perfect – the sisters admit they definitely get into fights, but they don’t get sick of each other. Since they are together so often, they do have their time alone or will sit quietly together in the same room.
“We’ve lived the same experiences and we’ve gone through the entire day together, so sometimes there’s not a lot of chit-chatting,” Hannah says. “But when we’re apart, it’s almost like half of me is missing.”
“Our situation is comfortable,” Kaitlyn says. “It’s so much easier because we’ve been together since the womb. We know each other very well, and why wouldn’t you want to go to school with your best friend?”