The following article is shared with permission from NWTC.
Given all the recent challenges healthcare workers are facing today, some might wonder how future nurses are feeling as they near graduation. As educators are preparing the next generation of the nursing workforce, students of NWTC Marinette are eager to launch the next phase of their healthcare careers.
NWTC Marinette students are on the path to receive their Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) this May and are pursuing careers within intensive care units, clinics, and urgent care. Despite their different areas of interest, these students share the same passion for helping others.
“One of the reasons I chose nursing is the personal sense of satisfaction I feel in
helping a patient manage their health” Deb Gilles, NWTC ADN student says. “You’re involved in the entire patient experience – listening to patients, assessing their needs, and assisting in their care plan.”
During her 26 years in finance, Gilles found her passion for helping others which has led to her career journey today. As a nurse “you’re touching people’s lives on a very personal level and helping them reach their goals.”
Katie Schwittay had worked as an LPN for 12 years before enrolling in the bridge program at NWTC Marinette to earn her ADN. “There are more opportunities as an RN because it opens the door to various areas of nursing specialties. I gained so much great experience at the clinic in Daggett, and I want to do even more.”
Certainly, the last two years have taken a toll on healthcare professionals. “When I’m at clinicals, I can see the physical strain in staff,” NWTC ADN student, Molly Anderson, admits. “It’s hard,” but she and the others agree, “I’m not burned out from being in this profession. I’m here because I want to help.”
Anderson’s son was diagnosed with a brain tumor and attributes her positive experience with obstetric and oncology nurses as the primary motivation to continue her education journey.
Motivation and support are critical to Schwittay as well. “Breakdowns happen when you doubt yourself. Family, friends, spouses—they all help. Friends understand that I’ll be absent for a few weeks during parts of the semester. One of my girlfriends brought over a meal for supper. Another one did that a few weeks later. It was so helpful.”
Paige Dolata, another nursing student in the Marinette area, finds inspiration from her family. “My cousin is an ER nurse and I’ve always been set on being a nurse.” Dolata has worked at Rennes as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) for two years now and says, “The best moment is when I put my residents to bed and they say ‘thank you for all your help.’ I love when I get the chance to meet their families, share their stories, and help brighten their days.’”
Dolata is finishing up her first year on the Marinette Nursing Track, a collaborative program for nursing students in the Marinette area. Taking classes this year at UW-Green Bay, Marinette Campus, Dolata raves about her chemistry lab faculty member, Dr. Mark Klemp. “Now I’m looking forward to next year at NWTC Marinette, focusing just on nursing and my ADN.” Then Dolata will finish her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) at the UW Campus in Marinette.
All four nursing students are focused on contributing to healthcare in our region in the future. Gilles reminds prospective nursing students that “nurses aren’t just handing out medication. They are thinking critically all the time about how the body works, how people think about their health, and how people interpret science. They are constantly thinking critically to provide the best care that considers both physical and mental well-being.”
And the healthcare challenges facing our area today don’t sway them at all from their path. “I want to get my degree and get to work,” Dolata says. “That’s part of why I’m staying here in Marinette to earn my degrees in nursing, so I can save money and work here.”
All the students know that our area will need more nurses in the future. They tell future colleagues that nursing school can be difficult but there’s help and support. “And you have a very rewarding career at the end,” says Gilles. “Just remember that there’s always room for improvement,” Anderson adds. “Never think you know everything. Keep an open mind and have your group of peers you can study with.” Schwittay’s advice is simple: “Don’t doubt yourself. You can do it. Take it day by day. After all, that’s all you can do.”
NWTC Marinette’s ADN program follows a four-semester curriculum. Over 95% of students in this program are employed within the first six months of graduation and earns an average starting salary of $55,000 per year.
To learn more about NWTC Marinette’s ADN program and other tracks available, like PN to ADN program and the Marinette Nursing Track with UW-Green Bay Marinette Campus, visit nwtc.edu/marinette or call 715-735-9361.