Nursing students share love of the program with high school students considering the career field    

Seniors in the Irene Ransom Bradley School of Nursing began their college experience at Pittsburg State in Fall 2018, when the world — especially the world of health care — was a different place.  

They entered nursing school in Fall 2020, pre-vaccines and as numbers of those infected and dying were climbing. 

In the months since, they’ve gained valuable experience, they said, in numerous area hospitals including Ascension Via Christi-Pittsburg, Girard Medical Center, Mercy and Freeman in Joplin, Labette Health in Parsons, Cox Barton County Hospital in Lamar, Missouri, and Olathe Medical Center in Olathe. 

They’ve used new, state-of-the-art automated patient manikins that breathe, give birth, and a host of other realistic things. 

They’ve made it through the challenges of learning in pandemic, they’re excited to get started in the field, and they have their choice of job offers. 

But before they graduate, they’ve been making time to share their experiences and advice to high school students who say they’re eager to follow in their footsteps and want to learn more about the Irene Ransom Bradley School of Nursing. 

Dozens of students from area high schools have visited the school this spring to learn about the field first-hand from nursing students and faculty. 

“It’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do – it's the caring for people that attracted me to it,” Morgan Perry, a senior nursing major from Atchison, told them. 

Still three months from graduating, she already has a job lined up in the emergency room at St. Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City starting in June, a job that is exactly what she was hoping for. 

“Because there is a nursing shortage, you can choose where you want to go – you can specialize in the area you want to,” Morgan Geist, a senior nursing major from Andale, told them. “We're doing what we want to do right now instead of having to just get our feet in the door and hope to get there someday.” 

Like Perry, Geist has a job lined up in trauma and the ICU at OU Health starting in June. 

“The job prospects for nurses are encouraging,” she said. 

And there is no better place to get their education and hands-on experiences in order to prepare for it than Pittsburg State, they said. 

“We’re thrilled to see so many high school students excited about nursing and all that it has to offer,” said Assistant Professor Ashleigh Heter, who helps coordinate high school visits. “We've gained so much here in the School of Nursing in recent years — the birthing simulator, the pediatric simulator, the adult simulator — and are getting ready to break ground for a simulation hospital. It’s a great place to be, and a great profession to go into.” 

There are 84 juniors and 85 seniors in the School of Nursing, and interest shows no signs of slowing down, Heter said.  

One recent career exploration day at the school was attended by high schools in Arma, Cherokee, Erie, Ft. Scott, and Galena. The largest group: 20 juniors and seniors from Northeast High School in Arma, all members of HOSA and very interested in careers in the health sciences, their teacher said. 


Sierra Hatfield, a junior from NHS, got the chance to fill a syringe, clean a mock “arm” with an alcohol swab, and give an injection with guidance from a senior nursing student. 

“I’m here to see what I like, to consider attending nursing school, because I want to do something medical,” she said. “I want to be able to help people.” 

Malia Vinson, a junior from Southeast High School, was among those who got to interact with a pediatric patient simulator, using a stethoscope to listen to his breathing. 

“I definitely want to do a job in the medical field, because it’s an important field and I find it really interesting working with people. I want to help them and to make a difference, and I’m good at science and math,” she said. “I love seeing how the learning here is realistic — getting to use the mannequins that actually move and practicing giving shots has given me an idea of what it’s like to do patient interaction.” 

That includes “Victoria,” a $100,000 manikin that shows fetal heart rates and contractions and can give birth to a baby. 

“Yesterday, our students helped deliver six babies, and a few days before that, they delivered nine,” said Assistant Professor Traci Stahl, who has helped to deliver hundreds of real-life babies in her years in the field. “We’re proud to offer so many hands-on, wonderful learning experiences to prepare students for working in a hospital setting, and we’re excited to pass on our knowledge and experience. Most all of us have clinical practice, and that helps to facilitate learning in the classroom.” 

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