Courtenay Self wanted to get away from her small hometown in Texas and see the world. In 2008 at the age of 21, she joined the National Guard and became a medic. She helped in disaster situations and traveled to other countries to provide medical care to people without access to health care. After her stint in the National Guard, the dust settled and she was looking for a way to continue caring for people. She began working as a Certified Nursing Assistant and now, at the age of 27, is taking the next step as a student in the Barton nursing program.
Due to her qualifications gained in the National Guard, Self was hired by Barton to teach a Combat Lifesaver course from 2011-2013, which teaches immediate medical skills to active duty soldiers at Ft. Riley and Ft. Leavenworth. It was this relationship with Barton that helped her choose her school. She commutes about 140 miles round trip from Tescott for class and clinicals, and said choosing Barton was a decision she didn’t take lightly.
“Well after teaching for Barton, I’m a little biased!” she said. “But seriously, I really like the way the classes are structured. With each program (Licensed Practical Nurse and Registered Nurse) only taking a year, I can get started working and making money instead of having to go to school for four years. I definitely want to get my bachelor’s, but it really helps to be able to work while I progress towards it.”
Self said the pay is something she considers a benefit, but isn’t the main reason she is drawn to nursing.
“The good pay is a plus for sure, but I’ve really always enjoyed working with people and the intense environment and definitely the problem-solving aspect of it,” she said.
Self said Barton’s on-site clinical setup was also something that attracted her.
“Working our clinicals in the smaller hospitals is such a big difference compared to a big hospital because there is just chaos all the time in the larger hospitals,” she said. “In the smaller rural hospitals, you can really focus on the work you’re supposed to be doing and the patient you are with.”
Self is working through the LPN program and will continue on to the RN program next year. She is having a baby girl in April, but isn’t letting that stop her from getting through her coursework. She said Barton’s faculty is very helpful and knows she will have their support.
“The instructors have helped me tremendously,” she said. They are really flexible and very available. “They are always there for you, which is nice. They even made a point to schedule my clinicals early in the semester so that I won’t have to worry about them when she’s due in April.”
Self is well on her way to becoming a nurse and she encourages people to look into the field.
“If you can spend some time in a hospital setting, and if you like it and you like working with people, go for it,” she said. “I’m happy doing this and I’ll always have a job. There will always be sick people, which I hate ... I’m not like ‘Yay there’s always going to be sick people!’ I’m just saying it’s definitely a secure job market.”
The deadline to apply for the nursing fall semester is Jan. 31. For more information contact the Nursing Department at 620-792-9357 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit nursing.bartonccc.edu.