If there is one thing the world has learned over the past year, it is the value of healthcare workers. As COVID-19 disrupted our lives, nurses worked tirelessly on the front lines saving lives and bringing comfort to those in need.
Growing up my dream had always been to become a nurse. I spent many days and nights in the hospital as my grandmother battled metastatic breast cancer. Through her journey, it only solidified to me that I was meant to be a nurse. During her many chemotherapy appointments, I watched as the nurses always treated her as if she was a person and not just her diagnosis. I understand now that whenever you’re a nurse, you must take on many roles because each and every patient that you care for is unique and they have their own story.
I had only worked as an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) nurse for five months when we became overwhelmed with the COVID-19 crisis. The majority of my ICU patients are sedated and unable to have family with them. However, in our unit we do our very best to comfort the families through phone calls and assurances that we will treat their loved ones as our own. Being a nurse has its share of hard days, but I honestly can’t imagine having another career that is as fulfilling. Knowing that I can be there to help a patient and their family during one of the worst and scariest times in their lives is one of the reasons that nursing is such a gratifying field.
Nursing is such a diverse career path, which enables every person the opportunity to find their own niche. Some people live for the rush of the ER’s fast pace and unpredictability, while others prefer the atmosphere that the Labor and Delivery unit brings. Nurses can also choose career pathways such as administration, nurse manager or nurse educator. No matter what path one chooses, a commitment to nursing is also a dedication to lifelong learning. I love that nursing keeps me on my toes with constantly evolving information, medication and new techniques that become standard practice.
Although I have always wanted to be a nurse, college is expensive, and I knew the only way to enter my dream career would be with the help of a scholarship. Through a past recipient, I was encouraged to apply for a scholarship offered by the U.S. Department of Labor via the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), and I did as soon as I was eligible. The program includes taking an aptitude test and filling out several application forms. A career coach at the Kentucky Career Center-Lincoln Trail (KCC-LT) guided me through the process and made it easy for me.
WIOA provides scholarships for local individuals looking to work in an in-demand career field. With assistance from KCC-LT, individuals can apply for the scholarship, get connected with education and training programs, be informed of job openings and receive additional job training assistance such as resume building. I attended Campbellsville University and once I had obtained my associate’s degree, I was granted the WIOA scholarship to go on and earn my Bachelor of Science in Nursing. I am proud to say that I was able to earn a four-year degree in nursing and now work as a Registered Nurse at Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center in Danville.
I would recommend the nursing field to anyone that has a passion for helping others, the drive to keep learning and the ability to be patient yet work well under pressure. In addition to being an extremely fulfilling field, a career in nursing offers excellent benefits and an average Kentucky starting salary of $45,000. Plus, with the variety of specialties and the number of open jobs in the field, there is plenty of room for every nurse to find their dream job.
If nursing sounds like a good fit for you, visit the KCC-LT website at ltcareercenter.org/healthcare and make an appointment to learn more about the WIOA scholarship, education opportunities and how you can begin your journey on this meaningful career path.
Kenlee Stout is a Registered Nurse currently employed at Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center in Danville, KY.