Nursing school: A family affair


Nursing school: A family affair

If all goes according to plan, Christina Carter should follow her daughter, Ashley Carter, right across the stage at Chamberlain College of Nursing’s graduation ceremony in December 2015. Both are pursuing their bachelor of science in nursing degree.

How did this mother and daughter end up in the same nursing program at the same time? It certainly wasn’t planned.

Christina Carter worked three years as a certified nurse assistant (CNA) in hospitals before staying home to raise three children. “I watched how nurses worked and saw them loving their jobs. I wanted a nursing degree, but waited until my youngest was in high school to do it,” said Christina.

She started school at Gwinnett Technical College, but on the advice of an instructor decided to go for a bachelor’s rather than an associate degree. “A friend of mine kept talking about Chamberlain and it seemed like a good fit,” she said. “They have a great campus in Atlanta with newly refurbished classrooms and an amazing simulation laboratory.”

Ashley liked to play doctor growing up and knew she loved helping people. “My passion is to be someone that patients trust,” she said. She started out in pre-nursing courses at Kennesaw State University, but then did a year of biochemistry and pre-med courses to make sure. When she decided that nursing was her path, her mom suggested she apply to Chamberlain.

“I thought she was kidding. I mean teens go away to college to get away from their parents. Who would go to college with her mom? But then I was accepted and got excited, so I told mom, I guess we’re classmates.”

They may share the same goal, but each is approaching it in her own way.

Different study habits

Christina and Ashley live under one roof with their husband/father and two sons/brothers, but studying together is not an option. Christina has a household to run, and her son’s activities to attend. Ashley is working two part-time jobs and banking the money to pay back student loans later. Christina has tuition assistance thanks to her husband’s GI Bill benefit.

“I like to write out things from the book and have music or Netflix on when I study,” said Ashley.

“I study behind a closed door in my basement office, either in quiet or with soft classical music,” said Christina. “Ashley retains things a lot easier, but we are actually pretty even with grades,” said Christina. Both use e-readers to study on the go.

With her hospital experience, Christina is better at fundamentals and understanding practical applications. Ashley is better at health assessment and analytics. “But Dad told us from the start that there wasn’t going to be any competing or fighting. We’re both into hitting the books. That’s what it takes,” said Ashley.

Different career directions

Christina was thrilled that her first clinical experience was at Grady Memorial Hospital. “I got to work with a real expert on wound care and nurses there helped me learn how to change a bed with a patient in it and insert a Foley catheter,” she said. “I was able to follow an emergency room nurse and he answered all my questions. Believe me, they see anything and everything there.” She wants to specialize in emergency room, trauma or cardiac nursing.

Ashley was a little jealous at first. Her first clinical experience was in a nursing home. “I’m grateful now, because it helped me learn how to interact with patients. I feel more confident going into my next rotation at Saint Joseph’s [Hospital],” said Ashley. “I want to work in pediatrics because I love kids, but I’m also learning about working with older patients and thinking about geriatrics. Going to school with mom is great, but I don’t want to work with her.”

Mutual support

Both women like being able to change out of their scrubs at the end of the day and talk about what they learned in their rotations. “We have our own post-day conference and we’ll discuss different ways to handle things,” said Ashley. “It was awkward being in class together at the beginning, but learning how to be a nurse is so humbling. I’ve loved that we’re going through this together and following our dreams.”

Christina feels like she’s seeing the medical field again for the first time through her daughter’s eyes and is proud to see her excel.

Before an exam, they’ll turn to each other and say, “We got this.” “We have our own built-in support system,” said Ashley.

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