by James Coburn – staff writer
Claressa Carter develops a deep well of accomplishment while working as a registered nurse at Stillwater Medical Center. She serves in the hospital’s catheterization lab in the pre-assessment and post-assessment position after six years of working on the medical surgical floor. She has her eyes on becoming a nurse educator, knowing that a nursing career improves life.
“It’s pretty awesome to see something built on another experience,” Carter said. “I can be doing something in the cath lab and think about something that I did when I was a CNA, and then as an LPN, and now as an RN, I get to see how the pieces fit together. I could still do what I do in the cath lab, but I don’t think I would have as rich of a background to share with my patients if I didn’t have each step of the journey.” (story continues below)
Stillwater Medical Center offers a lot of educational opportunities to grow in one’s profession, in-part with the flexibility it gives its staff to move seamlessly within the hospital. Learning benefits not only the person receiving the education but the people they are taking care of, whether that’s the patient, their family members or co-workers, Carter said.
Carter said she appreciates the culture at Stillwater Medical Center because coworkers build each other up and invest in one another.
“I feel that it’s very important to have continuing education. The medical world is advancing, and I feel that we need to advance with it, to be able to provide the best care to our patients for a speedier recovery and faster pain-free recovery,” said Whitney Arrington, RN.
Carter is advancing her education after earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from Northwestern Oklahoma State University in Alva in 2016, to enjoying her second semester of earning a Master of Science in Nursing Education degree from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah. For Carter, greater opportunities bring contentment. And she is enriched by fine-tuning her on-the-job learning experiences.
“I just feel you can be more concise. You can feel where a person is and how to relate to them best, if you have an education to do so,” Carter said.
She is very encouraged by the online educational opportunity offered by Northeastern State University.
“They have high standards. They want you to think about what you’re thinking,” Carter said. “I really like that. It’s a new concept to me, thinking about what I’m thinking about. You can get really deep. Sometimes the deeper you get — you get down to the granular level.”
Two years ago, Carter was certified as a med/surg nurse after learning about the advantages from coworkers certified in that specialty. She is also certified to give chemotherapy and in advanced cardiovascular life support. Certification enhances a nurse’s credibility to a higher standard and demonstrates a caring persona to delve below the surface of health care. The process of certification felt more intense for Carter than her NCLEX training for becoming a nurse.
She encourages students to become nurses. A nursing career means a lot to Carter.
“I get a lot out of helping other people. I think people should look at becoming a nurse. They could be in another person’s shoes. We are always going to need the profession of nursing,” she said. “You can take nursing as far as you want to take it.”
Areas of nursing go beyond working in a hospital or clinic. So, for Carter, opportunities abound to satiate desired professional achievements from data and technology to administration.
“I like that at this hospital, nurses are involved at every level of decision making,” she added. “I think a lot of professions don’t give you that choice like nursing does.”
There is not only a nation-wide nursing shortage, but also a lack of teachers to train them.
“There’s a lot of pressure in being an educator. I mean it’s not just educating. It’s service in the community and working with other educators. There’s a difference in pay. There’s always going to be a trade-off. You just need to see where you’re at in your life.”
When Carter was a certified nurse aide on the Texas coast, she would ask nurses about their history in the profession. Her charge nurse at the time told her that education defines interests in work and choices of where to live.
“It gives you that freedom,” Carter explained. “Whenever I’m precepting — whenever I have a student with me — or somebody goes, ‘Hey, I got into nursing school,’ I say, ‘Good, you’re giving yourself that freedom.’”