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Getting a nursing degree is not easy, but it is not impossible.


“Being male and bilingual put me on the fast track to getting my nursing degree.”

Nursing wasn't Walter's first career choice. He started out his professional life as an Emergency Medical Technician and a Paramedics driver for an ambulance company. "I was attracted to the medical field and the excitement and rush of helping people." Working as an EMT running 911 calls had Walter working long hours for little financial reward. All day long Walter would be in and out of the ER and soon made friends with lots of nurses. "Over and over again, they would talk to me about all the benefits of being a nurse. It was the variety of things to experience and learn that first got my attention. And after I found out how much more money I could earn, I decided to go back to school to become a nurse." Since Walter already had an Associate Arts Degree, he was well on his way to fulfilling some of the nursing school prerequisites.

"I applied in April and by September I was enrolled in nursing school. I must admit, some of the science courses were challenging, but I had lots of support — both from family and fellow students. My wife would help by typing papers for me. Plus, there were tutors, study groups and access to resources at my school that helped a lot." Being both male and bilingual helped Walter be accepted into school and in his job. "Getting your health care through an interpreter is not the same as speaking one-on-one with your nurse." There is a high demand for bilingual nurses in the workforce where the health care providers are looking more and more for culturally competent care.

It was the variety of opportunities that really got Walter hooked on nursing. "When I talked to the nurses in the ER, they would go on and on about all the opportunities you have when you're a nurse. The lateral and upward mobility really interested me. I have been a nurse now for 13 years and have had seven specialties so far. Each time I consider another specialty, my hospital trains me for free." Oncology, critical care, Public Health and clinical nursing are just a few of the areas Walter has enjoyed learning and practicing. "I am ever-changing and evolving as a nurse. With my endless training and education opportunities, nursing can take me anywhere."

Along with the variety of nursing opportunities, Walter really loves teaching young kids about nursing. His hospital sponsors a high school mentoring program that allows students to shadow medical professionals for 4 hours a day. The program exposes high school students to all aspects of nursing — they can watch procedures, take vital signs and interact with the patients. "Right now I am mentoring a 10th grade Hispanic student. I'm teaching her how to look up labs on the computer, calculate dosages and how to draw medicine into a syringe. It lets the kids experience nursing first hand."

Since Walter became a nurse, he hasn't been out of work once. "Physicians are looking for work, nurses are GETTING work." He is going back to school in September to take courses to become a Nurse Practitioner. As a practicing RN, Walter's work schedule allows him to work full time and go to school. "Education is the key to success. Plus, my hospital gives nurses tuition reimbursement — you can't beat that!"