KaLinda Nichols is studying to become a nurse educator at the University of Oklahoma.

by James Coburn
Staff Writer
Life becomes full again at Golden Age Nursing Center in Guthrie. Life can improve.
Nursing education is a challenging field that prepares students for a different level of nursing, said KaLinda Nichols, RN, at Golden Age Nursing Center and also enrolled in the masters program for education at University of Oklahoma College of Nursing. Her field will prepare her to teach nursing education. She has been with Golden Age since 2012.
“Knowing your skills and knowing your pathophysiology is a lot more involved, Nichols said. “I’m very interested in helping the nursing shortage and to be able to guide some of those people along the way.”
Many people outside of nursing may not realize there are many opportunities in nursing. They base their understanding of nursing on a limited view point. But diversity in career choices is one of the best aspects of nursing, Nichols said. “If you love computers, there’s a deep need for informatics in the nursing world,” she said. “So you have a nurse that’s guiding the information technology person about what the nurse skills need to be and what the nurse is looking for, and how to implement that into better systems so that we can move quicker, do better with more efficiency.”
Though Nichols is pursuing education, in the past, she has been involved in acute care. Intensive care provided her the initial knowledge of learning all of her basics. But then ultimately, she found her place in the geriatric setting of long-term care.
She has had three different positions at Golden Age. She is currently the quality assurance performance improvement coordinator. Nichols has also done MDS work, which is the Medicare backbone of how residents fit in a facility. She has also worked as a charge nurse there in the hall.
“There’s a lot of ability to find what you like,” she said.
Her experience culminates within her ability to share knowledge and skills. Nursing provides a niche for almost everyone, she said. Additionally, there is a shortage of nursing professors in the U.S. “That was one of my biggest considerations. In my nursing life I have always ended up being a preceptor,” Nichols said. “When I worked in the hospital, they’d bring me someone to mentor. It’s also one of my responsibilities to do the nurse training here. We have a trainer who does all of our CNA work, but for that nursing element, I’ve been able to work one-one-one with them.”
She is still allowed to use her education component of nursing while working in quality assurance performance improvement to do that training.
“That’s part of our quality — getting a new nurse started off on the right foot,” Nichols said. “It’s very individualized. You may train someone for a week and they’re ready to fly. You may train someone for two weeks and they need another week. That is 100 percent fluid here.”
She likes working at Golden Age in Guthrie, because the center is based on how to make its nurses grow in patient care. An investment of time assures the time spent is productive for the nurse while being productive for the home as well, Nichols said.
“If you need a different type of teaching; if you need a different source of learning, there’s so many experienced RNs here to guide that, and one will be your fit,” Nichols said.
Some of the certified nursing aids at Golden Age have been there for 25-30 years, so they have a lot of institutional knowledge to share. The greatest resource for a new charge nurse working on the floor is a CNA, Nichols said.
“That’s who knows what’s going on,” she said. “That’s who knows this person likes things this way. This person want’s lunch at 2 p.m. on Tuesdays. They are your resource. In a nursing home setting for sure, I think it’s important to have that teamwork on your hall.”
Golden Age is truly a home, she said. She hears over and over again from families coming to Golden Age that they had fear when first bringing a loved one to a nursing home. They heard about problems with nursing homes decades ago. “But they walk in and you can see them start to relax,” Nichols said. “This is a home. People live here. Yesterday, one of our residents had five of her grandchildren here and they were all playing cards. When you walk through the doors here, you realize, ‘I can improve the quality of my loved one’s life’”.
Additionally, Nichols said leisure time is important for a nurse. They must rejuvenate, she said.
“I have a grandma. On my day off, I pick her up and she spends the day with me. We crochet and play with our dog that she loves,” Nichols said. “I just do fun things with her. She likes to watch game shows. So we watch game shows and play those on the TV.