Some people can keep calm in the midst of chaos. Clara Taylor is one of them.
Taylor earned her degree in the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing online program while working full time as a critical care nurse at Overton Brooks VA Medical Center and part time in a supervisory role at a nursing home. Taylor says efficient scheduling and good time management helped her pull it off.
“I got up at a certain time to study for any quizzes or exams, and I always tried to do my work ahead of time,” she said.
With so much going on in her life, the flexibility of an online program was the only logical choice for Taylor, a Shreveport native, who chose UL Lafayette for its reputation where she worked.
“Several of the nurses I worked with went to UL Lafayette,” she said. “They were telling me that it was pretty friendly for people who work and attend school. They also told me, which I found to be true, that the instructors were really helpful, and they understood that we weren’t traditional students.”
The program helped Taylor hone two skills she considers crucial when the going gets tough: patience and organization.
“I learned patience and more patience,” she said. “I’m a nurse. I try to coordinate and have good maintenance of my time to take care of the business at hand. But in this program, I definitely learned how to be more organized.”
Dedicated to Caregiving
Taylor knew she wanted to be a nurse from a very young age.
“When I was growing up I noticed that so many people were either lacking the knowledge about their health problems, where they should or could go for care and who they should speak to about their health concerns, or they just did not have the resources to get the healthcare that they needed,” she said.
“I had been around medicine and healthcare for a long time before becoming a nurse,” said Taylor, who has been a nurse for seven years now. “I worked in registration and admitting, some clinics, and as a Pharmacy Tech at LSU Hospital for a total of 23 years, with my last 4 years as admitting supervisor. Then I became a Licensed Practical Nurse [LPN], so I wasn’t a stranger to healthcare or the medical language, the medical staff or policies.”
However, she had to take a hiatus from pursuing her dreams of becoming a nurse before getting to the LPN stage. She needed to focus on her role as a single parent while working full time. Life-changing setbacks required her to stay strong for her two children, Amber (32) and Norman (25).
“In 2008 I had to put my nursing career on hold as far as going to school because Norman suffered a spinal cord injury playing football,” said Taylor, who started working toward her LPN in 2011.
“I had to keep going. There was no room to stop and think when you’re a single parent. You just don’t do that. Sometimes you have to compromise and sacrifice,” she said of her choice to wait on earning her degree.
Norman earned an Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education from Southern University Shreveport and a bachelor’s degree from LSU Shreveport. He is now preparing to return to college to work on his master’s degree in education, and his mother is building the career she has always wanted for herself.
Taylor views her current exposure to a wide range of crises and patient types as preparation for the leadership position she aspires to.
“In a management role, it’s my hope that my journey as a staff nurse can help me be understanding and knowledgeable, which I believe will help the people that I work with be a voice for nurses and patients as well patient’s family,” she said.
Getting to Work
The encouragement Taylor received after reconnecting with her high school sweetheart prompted her to move toward her dreams.
“I remarried 12 years ago, and my husband, Stanley, felt that I should be able to start my journey in healthcare already,” she said. “He believed in me. He knew that I could do it, and I did. I had a great support system with him.”
Of all the courses in the RN to BSN program, NURS 406: Evidence-Based Practice for RN to BSN has made the longest-lasting impression on Taylor’s work.
“It opened my eyes to how important it is to research, because sometimes we, as nurses, never want to get complacent,” she said. “Keeping up with the most updated studies helps you stay on top of your practice as a nurse or as a person in management, which can produce better outcomes for patients.”
One project in particular deepened her understanding of both the nursing practice and her community in the Community Health Nursing with Diverse Populations course.
“I had to interview someone concerning obesity,” she said. “We had to physically drive through the community that we chose and make assessments in order to come up with a diagnosis that we thought would be appropriate for that community at that time. So I learned a lot about my city and statistics as far as crime is concerned as well as many resources that I never used to obtain the information needed. It was amazing.”
Eyeing a January 2020 start for her master’s degree program, Taylor offers some advice to those who want to add studies to a busy life:
“You’re going to have to make some sacrifices if you’re working and going to school. Life happens. Sometimes you have absolutely no control over what happens. Just stay focused and keep chopping away at it.”
Learn more about the UL Lafayette online RN to BSN program.