Jessica Barton, Kristen Cotter, and Sheila Rather are all three currently enrolled in Missouri State’s MSN – Nurse Educator program and that’s not all they have in common. They are all also current faculty in the nursing program at Missouri State – West Plains.
Where it all began
Jessica, Sheila, and Kristen all had the passion for nursing in their early years.
Jessica always knew she wanted to be in healthcare. She believes the love for nursing is something you are born with – “a deep desire to help someone beyond ourselves”. She recalls spending time in the hospital as a child and having lasting memories of how the nursing staff made her feel better in difficult times. Jessica also spent time shadowing medical professionals in her community and found their impact inspiring.
Jessica has close ties to West Plains as she participated in a dual enrollment program while in high school and then continued to the nursing program. In 2007, she started working in the local ICU and went on to completing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing years later. In 2019, she welcomed the opportunity to give back to her community as a clinical instructor for MSU-West Plains. Jessica enjoys being a part of the growth of nursing students and currently teaches in the clinical and classroom setting.
Kristen’s nursing path began when she found herself a parent at the age of 17. Always interested in medicine and realizing medical school wasn’t feasible, she chose the path of nursing to independently support her family.
Kristen has never second guessed her career choice and is confident she is exactly where she is supposed to be. “At the start of my nursing career, I never thought beyond being just a nurse. In 2005, I found myself as a nurse educator. Now I get to educate and inspire others to love nursing as much as I do.”
Shelia’s passion started when she was just 16 and started caring for her grandfather who was on hospice. Sheila recalls being scared at times and reaching out to her grandfather’s hospice nurse, Kim. Kim was calm and showed compassion for Sheila and her grandfather. As her grandfather passed away, Kim stayed as a pillar of strength and comfort for Sheila’s family. She showed encouragement, care, love, and grief.
Recently, Sheila had the opportunity to return that comfort to Kim as her nurse. Sheila did her best to be the same kind, compassionate nurse Kim was to her. Sheila holds on to that experience as one of her most memorable moments of her career.
“Ask anyone about a happy, tragic, joyful, scary time in their life and I would bet they will tell a story about a nurse who was there for them during that time.”
Plans as an MSN-Nurse Educator
Jessica, Kristen, and Sheila all plan to continue teaching at MSU-West Plains.
Jessica reflects on the impact she has as a nurse educator. A quote she recalls, “Save one life, and you are a hero. Save a thousand, and you are a nurse.” As a nurse educator, Jessica gets to impact students that will go out and impact thousands of people.
“You help mold and shape the future of nursing through the students who enter your classroom or clinical setting every day. As an educator, you are able to foster learning and watch the excitement in your students’ eyes as the pieces start to come together and all the lectures start to make sense. The lightbulb that comes on is truly magnificent to watch and can be quite an overwhelming experience to know you were part of that.”
Kristen currently works as a clinical nurse while educating future nurses. She is putting what she is learning to use in real-time and will use that knowledge to be a better educator and clinical nurse.
“Nursing is hard. Nothing worth it is easy. Some days it’s worth it, and some days it’s not, but many days you will get so much more from the individuals that you care for than you’re able to give to them.”
Sheila shares that she always wanted to be either a nurse or a teacher and was thrilled when she learned she could do both. Pursing her Master of Science in Nursing as a Nurse Educator will allow her to continue both her dreams. Sheila wants to remind all nursing students that taking on new things can be scary but hold on to your “why” and use it as motivation. “Working towards a goal requires hard work and stepping outside your comfort zone at times. But once you’ve achieved your goal, it’s the most rewarding feeling.”
For all three, a consistent theme in being a nurse and educator is being able to provide exceptional, compassionate care beyond the bedside -to teach and encourage future nurses that they are much more than “just a nurse”.
Missouri State University’s MSN-Nurse Educator program is 100% online and provides nurses with the skill to design curriculum and learn teaching strategies for academic, community and clinical settings.