When she was a child, Stacey Newby wanted to be a nurse, but she wasn’t sure that she could be around bodily fluids or dying patients. With that in mind, she majored in communications with a minor in real estate and graduated from Georgia State University in 1998.
“My life went in a different direction,” said Newby, 38. “I got my real estate license and went into the mortgage business. I was a mortgage officer for nine years.”
Newby wasn’t passionate about her work, but she thought she was too far into her career to make a change. Still, Newby had friends who were nurses and she kept asking them about the profession.
“They would complain about the bureaucracy and the long hours but still, at the end of the day, they would talk about the satisfaction of having cared for patients,” she said. “I didn’t have that same feeling and I wanted to be fulfilled at the end of the day.”
So in 2010 Newby began taking nursing prerequisite courses at Kennesaw State University and discovered that her interest in physiology had grown over the years. She enrolled at Chamberlain College of Nursing in Atlanta in 2012.
“I knew they had a good reputation for education and turning out some of the best nurses out there. I wanted to be the best,” she said.
Newby has progressed through the program at her own pace, taking two and sometimes three classes a semester.
“This program is intense; it pushes you. When you think something is impossible and that you’re at your limit, you just have to do it anyway,” she said.
Newby’s 5-year-old son, Blake, has grown used to his mother carving out time to study. He often sits and colors while she does homework, and has learned to write his letters in the process.
“Going back to school is a juggling act; that’s been the most challenging part,” she said. “The first time around, I didn’t have a son or a dog, and I didn’t have to work my way through. I’m paying cash for my education and that’s another stress. Sometimes I work the night shift so I’ll have more time to be with him. Going to school this time around, I have a whole different mindset.”
Newby is in the classroom two days a week and in clinical training rotations for another two days. On the weekends, she works as an extern in the dialysis unit at WellStar Kennestone Hospital.
While some of her organizational and customer management skills have carried over, nursing is taking Newby to new depths of service.
“I was in a public service profession, and I knew how to talk and relate to people, but nursing calls on your compassion at a much deeper level. It’s much more spiritual for me,” she said.
Newby advises anyone interested in nursing to think it over carefully.
“I did a lot of soul searching first, and I’m glad I did,” she said. “You have to be 100 percent committed — mentally, emotionally and spiritually — to get through nursing school. Changing careers takes sacrifice, but I’m not letting anything stop me.”
While Newby expected it to be challenging, she had no idea what she was getting into until she started taking classes. There were times when she felt defeated and wanted to give up.
“But those feelings were fleeting compared to the accomplishment you feel when you see gratitude in your patients’ and their families’ eyes. That is fulfilling,” she said.
Having the encouragement and support of her fellow students has often strengthened Newby’s determination.
“We all struggle at times, but we know that we’re sharing a common goal and meeting it together. I’ve made lifelong friends,” Newby said.
She plans to graduate this year with a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
“I just finished my mental health clinical rotation and I believe I’ve discovered my specialty,” she said. “I’m looking forward to being in the work force.”
Newby’s long-term plan is to earn a master’s degree and work as a psychiatric nurse practitioner.
“I don’t know why I waited so long to become a nurse, but I think I’ll have more experience to bring to the profession now,” she said.