For Jeff Wade, nursing is a career that presented itself after doing what he knows best: putting family first.
After high school, the native of Altavista, Virginia, attended trade school in the area to become a Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning technician—following his uncle and grandfather into the same business. He worked in that field for seven years until the 2009 recession upturned his life and career. “Construction came to a griding halt, and I was laid off,” says Jeff, who lost his job as the head of the maintenance department at Randolph College.
That same year, Jeff’s father-in-law had become ill with many health problems, including kidney failure. “I wasn’t working at the time and volunteered to give my mother-in-law a break with all of the dialysis appointments,” he says. After a while, Jeff helped his father-in-law through at-home dialysis to ease the toll on his body. To boost his confidence should a medical emergency arise, Jeff earned Emergency Medical Training certification in 2009.
Three months later, the clinic through which Jeff managed his father-in-law’s treatments offered him a job. “I decided to go for it, working my schedule around his nocturnal treatments that started at 11:00 p.m. and finished by morning,” he says. From 2010 to 2018, Jeff worked for the University of Virginia Health Systems Altavista Dialysis clinic as a Certified Clinical Hemodialysis Technician. After six years on dialysis, Jeff’s father-in-law passed away in 2016.
Inspired to become a nurse
Through his hemodialysis job, Jeff grew familiar with nursing and decided to go back to school for a nursing degree, first earning pre-nursing certificates at Central Virginia Community College. Jeff then attended Centra College of Nursing and graduated with an Associate Degree of Nursing in 2018. “I had a unique perspective as a dialysis patient’s family member and knew that becoming a nurse would open up more opportunities for me to impact healthcare,” Jeff says.
After graduating, Jeff joined Centra Medical Group’s emergency department, eager for the chance to broaden his experience. He saw a variety of patients, including travelers passing through and residents. “We saw everyone from patients coming to this standalone emergency department as their primary care provider to people in auto accidents on the highway. It was great experience for a new nurse serving a rural area.”
Back for a BSN
In June 2020, with COVID-19 in full swing, Jeff decided to return to school for a BSN—something he’d been planning since finishing his ADN. “I had moved back to doing one day a week of dialysis at our local hospital, UVA Lynchburg, and both there and at Centra Medical Group, the agreement was that I would need to start a BSN program within five years of my hire date,” he says.
Jeff researched online RN to BSN programs and found American Sentinel College of Nursing & Health Sciences. “I really liked how the program was laid out and the BSN Powered by SIMPath® program was a big attraction, allowing me to work at my own pace and fit school into my unpredictable schedule in the middle of a pandemic!” Jeff started the BSN in August 2020.
Rural Health Scholarship
Jeff is the recipient of the Rural Health Scholarship at American Sentinel. “It’s exciting and means a lot to me, knowing that a panel of people decided I was worth awarding this to,” he says. “This past year has been difficult for many, and as a nurse, I want to do my best to make a contribution.”
Over the last year, Jeff has put his heart and soul into school and helping patients at the ER and the hospital. In March 2020, he moved out of his home and into a mobile home on his property, as his wife has health problems that could make COVID-19 life-threatening. “It’s been very difficult, but we couldn’t take that risk for our family,” he says. Now vaccinated, Jeff and his wife and daughter reunited in May 2021 after 14 months only seeing one another in the driveway.
Goals for the future
When Jeff graduates later this year, he wants to be able to continue his career in a hospital setting. He’s also interested in management and leadership and has considered getting an MSN as well as teaching part time.
“I really think this BSN will be a stepping stone for me,” he says. “This program at American Sentinel has been great so far, and has shown me the areas where I know a lot and areas I want to explore further. It’s been a great challenge that I know will benefit me and the patients I serve.”
Inspired by Jeff’s story? A BSN is ideal for nurses who want to expand their knowledge base, become more marketable and enjoy greater career stability and mobility. Specialized knowledge forms the foundation of nursing and when you acquire new knowledge, you can apply it to nursing practice in ways that enhance patient care and improve outcomes. Have you dreamed of earning your BSN, MSN or DNP? With American Sentinel, you can make that dream a reality.
Read the other student success stories for more inspiration.
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