I wish the class best of luck: Branson Daily News :: News :: Students eye nursing future

The first pinning ceremony for practical nurses graduating from Ozarks Technical Community College’s Reeds Spring campus will take place tonight with 35 students.

OTC merged its LPN program with the former Gibson Tech LPN program a year ago.

“This is the largest class ever from this campus,” said Sheila Kaylor, OTC’s practical nursing program coordinator. “Now, our graduates will be eligible to take the state board exam to become a licensed practical nurse.”

Kaylor said most of the students are planning on continuing their education in a bridge program to become registered nurses.

“A lot of our students work in health care already. They are CNAs, phlebotomists and med-techs, so this program is another level of advancement as they continue on from here,” she said.

The OTC LPN program is an endurance run over 12 months. The students get hands-on training and course work.

Instructor Tammy Sanders said the training is not easy.

“You pretty much have to live, breathe and eat the program for the full year. It takes a lot to get through it,” Sanders said. “I tell them all, if they can survive this, they can do anything they set their minds to.”

Kim Walling, of Branson, is a member of this year's class. She is going to continue her schooling to become an RN, she said.

“I was working at Skaggs as a recovery-room tech and I’ve been working towards nursing for a long time,” Walling said. “I’m already enrolled at St. John's School of Nursing, so I’ve got one more year to go to become an RN, then I can continue on to get my bachelors degree on line in another year.”

Amanda Martin, of Taneyville, will enter an RN program, as well.

“I’ve never worked in health care, but my mom is a nurse, so I decided to become one, as well,” Martin said. “When I complete my schooling, I want to become a flight nurse.”

Kasie Fisher, of Forsyth, has her sights set on a nursing career working with geriatrics. She is currently working at Golden Living in Branson.

“I enjoy working with older people,” Fisher said. “I was the perfect fit for me.”

Fisher also said she has an interest in wound care. Like doctors who specialize in different areas of health care, nurses are doing the same.

“You can pretty much specialize in anything,” Fisher said. “A lot of nurses are getting into pediatrics, psychology, geriatrics and orthopedics.”

Kaylor said there is a demand for nurses in the area because of the numerous health care providers here.

She said the nursing program located in Stone County is in great demand. It attracts students from Branson, Blue Eye, Fordland, Ozark and Nixa.

“It gives students an opportunity to get into the program here, although there are only so many seats available,” Kaylor said. “It’s been an overall benefit for the student in that they can earn college credit now. When they become LPNs, their salary may increase by 50 percent depending on where they go to work.”