Nursing student achieves Midlife goal in central Nebraska
Nursing student achieves Midlife goal in central Nebraska

Many people might consider analyzing bodily fluids an unpleasant aspect of the medical or health sciences. They might also consider the medical terminology exchanged between physicians and nurses as incomprehensible, or those squiggly lines dancing along monitors impenetrable.

Not so Mandy Putnam, who at the age of 39 decided to upgrade her career from medical assistant to nurse by earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the Creighton University College of Nursing campus in central Nebraska.

“I don’t know why my interest grew,” she says. “I just know that when I had my children in my early 20s and took them to appointments that I found what the doctors and nurses were saying and doing interesting, and I thought to myself, ‘This is really fascinating.’”

 It helps, she says, that the nursing profession is multifaceted.

“A lot of older nurses go into administration,” she says. “If you’re younger and really bored where you are and you feel like you’re stuck in a rut, then you can say, ‘Hey, maybe I can do oncology and learn that whole new field and work there for a few years.’ It’s just such an open profession.”

Creighton University offers a one-year accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Fully accredited and among the nation’s longest-running accelerated nursing programs, the degree is offered in Omaha; Phoenix, Arizona; and in Hastings in central Nebraska, although that campus is in the early stages of relocating to the city of Grand Island.

The relocation to Grand Island will see Creighton bring its proud record of education to CHI Health St. Francis Hospital, which has served Grand Island since 1887 and today serves as a regional referral center with more than 100 physicians and more than 1,100 employees.

CHI St. Francis will offer Creighton nursing students a top-level clinical experience. St. Francis carries a “magnet hospital” designation, which is awarded by the American Nurses’ Credentialing Center and is considered the gold standard for nursing institutions where “nurses are empowered not only to take the lead on patient care, but to be the drivers of institutional healthcare change and innovation.”

Classes start in January and August, with applications accepted online, and Putnam, having started in January, will graduate in December.

“Relocating our central Nebraska campus to the Grand Island community allows Creighton University to highlight our academic-clinical partnership with CHI Health and contribute to alleviating the nursing shortage in Nebraska,” said Julie Manz, PhD, RN, assistant dean at the college.

“We look forward to establishing new relationships in the Grand Island community to best serve the health needs of the people through health promotion, disease prevention, health education and care management.”

Putnam’s determination to attend Creighton is impressive. Alternatives exist in Kearney, Nebraska, where she lives, and she could have enjoyed a 15-minute commute to class, but she chose instead to drive one hour and eight minutes to Creighton’s Hastings campus.

She had met students from other institutions who told her they felt insufficiently supported in their studies and that their instructors were unhelpful in helping them master difficult topics. Creighton alumni told a different story, she said.

“The doctor I was working for was a Creighton alumna, and she just always talked about what a wonderful experience she had at Creighton, so I decided to go to Creighton instead,” she says.

“I absolutely felt that support was present in my Creighton experience. It didn’t matter what kind of problem I was having, or any silly question that I might ask, they always took time to explain it to me and make sure that I felt comfortable whatever the scenario was.”

Cost concerns also proved unfounded, she says, as the cost differential between a Creighton nursing education and a similar education elsewhere amounted to no more than a few thousand dollars.

And, Putnam says, a Creighton nursing education carrying the reputation that it does, a job awaits her at CHI Health Good Samaritan Hospital in Kearney just as soon as she graduates.

“Finding a job is always a big concern for graduates,” she says. “I was so happy, and so relieved, to have a job waiting for me.”