Kenneth Bennett had administered about 50 vaccinations during his shift at the COVID-19 community vaccine clinic at Creighton, when a break between patients provided him a few minutes to reflect on his circuitous journey to this moment.
“I’ve always loved helping people,” said Bennett. “But I actually earned my undergrad degree in finance, so this is a big switch.”
Bennett, who donned nursing scrubs at the clinic, is enrolled in Creighton’s 12-month accelerated nursing program. The Jamaica native came to the United States in 2007, earning a finance degree from California State University, San Bernardino, and an MBA from La Sierra University in Riverside, California.
His first work experience was as an administrative assistant at a mental health facility in California.
“I spent some time with the psychiatrists, therapists and nurse practitioner,” Bennett said. “That experience was eye-opening.”
But there was an even more personal reason for Bennett’s desire for a career change.
His son, at just a month old, required a tracheostomy to relieve breathing difficulties. He had the tracheostomy tube removed in 2009, and then reinserted, before having it removed again in 2015.
“I spent a lot of time in the hospital,” Bennett said. “I was there with him, and I saw all the nurses and how they took care of him. And I said, ‘This is what I want to do.’ That’s why I chose to become a nurse.”
His son, who is now 13, still has breathing difficulties, but is doing better. Bennett, meanwhile, is on track to graduate with his nursing degree from Creighton in December. The COVID-19 clinic, he said, was his chance to give back, while also sharpening his clinical skills.
“The patients are very nice, very friendly,” he said. “Of course, they are really excited about the vaccination.”
After earning his undergraduate nursing degree, Bennett is considering pursuing a nurse practitioner degree with a focus on mental health and is weighing where to begin his new career.
“I do really like Omaha,” Bennett said. “But I also like the sunshine of California.”