COVID-19 Response and Reopening

Nursing Student Profiles

Students share their personal experiences and what inspired them to pursue a career in nursing.

Nursing Student Story - RobynRobyn
COCC Nursing Student

I grew in the small town of Scappoose, Oregon, outside of the Portland metro area. Around the age of seven, I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. Although, my illness was not life threatening, it was very debilitating as a young child. As a result, I spent a lot of time with my doctors and nurses and developed a close relationship with them. They showed me compassion, included me in my medical care, and empowered me to live life to the fullest despite my physical limitations. I soon realized that I wanted to be a nurse so that I could help others the way that they helped me.

As I got older, my disease got better, and I found the proper treatments that limited my disease. But that did not lessen my desire to become a nurse. I started taking all of the available science courses at my high school, and even graduated high school a year early. I did this in part because I have always been a “old soul” and felt ready to push myself in college, but additionally, I wanted to start my path to being a nurse.

After graduating, I moved to Bend Oregon with my boyfriend and started my prerequisites at COCC. Both my boyfriend and I got into the nursing program in 2020. Then in our first year of nursing school, we got engaged. Now we are set to graduate in June and get married in September of 2022.

The staff and environment in the COCC program have been amazing. The program is small which allows the students and staff to get to know each other on a personal level. I have made friends with many of the students in my cohort. Additionally, many of the staff feel more like friends and mentors than they do college professors. They truly care about their students and are passionate about teaching them to the best of their ability. The nursing professors come from all different backgrounds and have a wide variety of nursing expertise. Each of them has their own wisdom to impart on their students.

I have experienced the impact that nurses can have on their patients, mentally, emotionally, and physically. I want to be able to help and empower others the way that I was. Nursing is about more than just helping with patient’s physical needs, it is about helping them through what could be some of the most vulnerable and scary moments of their lives. I want to be a nurse so that I can provide emotional support to those who need it most.

Going into nursing school, I thought that I would want to work with pediatric patients, however, after seeing all of the possibilities, I think I want to work in a more acute care setting. My goal is to get a job in the ICU or IMCU at St. Charles. Eventually, my fiancé and I would like to pursue travel nursing for a few years before returning to Bend and settling down. However, one of the best parts of nursing is that there are so many different career paths to choose from. For now, I want to keep an open mind while experiencing different specialties so I can find what is the most fulfilling to me.

Nursing Student Story - LizLiz
COCC Nursing Student

I grew up in Portland and graduated high school in 2008 with no idea what I wanted to do. I worked in retail and then property management, but nothing ever felt right. Property management was a "good" job in that I was able to support myself, but it was not fulfilling, and I could not see me doing it long term. I wanted a career for myself and one that allowed me to be a positive impact on my community.

I was so nervous to go back to school at 28, knowing I wouldn’t graduate nursing school until 32. I was convinced I would be the oldest student and have nothing in common with my classmates. I could not have been more wrong. I found a community of people from a wide range of backgrounds and quickly made friends with an amazing group of people that happened to be my first clinical group. We continued to rely on each other throughout our first year and into our second, studying, reminding each other of due dates and schedule changes, and just generally supporting each other. Our ages range from early 20's to mid-30's but nursing school has put us all in the same place, living the same experiences.

Nursing school is no joke! I came into the program having easily gotten A's in all of my pre-requisites only to realize this is when the real work begins! That being said, the faculty is there for you. The first-year staff understood we were undergoing a massive transition and supported us ever step of the way. The instructors are there for you and want to see you succeed. Coming back after the summer off, I was worried I would have forgot some skills but the second-year instructors understand this and help you remember how much you already know. They really teach you to trust your instincts and not second guess yourself.

My younger sister went straight into a four-year BSN program after high school and has been working as a nurse since 2015. I watched her grow and thrive as a nurse, able to make a difference in people's lives on a daily basis. I wanted that, I wanted to be there for people in times of struggle to have a positive impact on their lives. She inspired me to look into nursing, but I was afraid to leave my job. One day I attended a COCC nursing information session and took the leap, enrolling in my pre-requisites shortly after. I hadn't been in a classroom since high school, and I was so nervous but my nerves quickly disappeared as I found support from facility and made new friends. I spread my pre-requisites over two years, adding in the requirements for a BSN, and applied for the program in 2020. During my second year of pre-requisites, I started working at St. Charles Redmond campus in the operating room and found whole new group of people to encourage me and keep me going. Just as I was finishing my pre-requests, the pandemic struck and I was even more inspired and determined to become a nurse I as I watched the nurses I worked with rally together to meet the changing needs of their community.

I currently work in the operating room at the Redmond St. Charles, and I absolutely love it and hope to eventually work there. It is a fantastic team environment where nurses, surgical technicians, physician's assistants, anesthesiologists, and surgeons work together to care for patients. The nurses in pre-op, the OR and in PACU are interacting with patients during some of the scariest and most stressful moments of their lives. They are there to comfort and reassure as well as to advocate for their patients when they are at their most vulnerable.

Nursing Student Profile ElanaElana
COCC Nursing Student

Before nursing school, I enjoyed a 7-year long career as a Preschool Teacher and caregiver. I worked with children aged 6 weeks to 4 years old and loved every minute of it. The highlight of this part of my life was working on a small farm-based preschool, complete with animals, gardening, and tons of outdoor exploration of Oregon’s high desert. While working full time, I was also pursuing a degree in Early Childhood education to further my teaching abilities and knowledge. In order to fulfill some of my science electives in this program I enrolled in an Anatomy and Physiology class at COCC. For the first time in 28 years, something clicked, and I developed a deep appreciation for science and its integral relationship with human health. I realized that in order to pursue this newfound respect for science and combine that with my previous experience in fostering human development, Nursing would be the perfect career for me to embark upon.

I truly appreciate the connection I have with the Nursing program instructors, staff, and fellow classmates at COCC. I have established a new community through the Nursing program, and I will always be appreciative and grateful for that. I love the opportunity to have hands on experience with clinical shifts at the hospital and to explore new skills in the Learning Resource Center. The COCC Nursing program is well respected and well connected within the region, which provides ample opportunity for professional development and growth.

The COCC Nursing Professors do an outstanding job of prioritizing my best interests and those of my fellow classmates. Their commitment to our learning experience is apparent through their dedication and attention to each and every students’ success. I appreciate that they accommodate every nursing students’ individual learning style and that they make our ability to learn the most important aspect of the program.

Empathy, understanding, and critical thinking are the three main reasons I want to be a Nurse. I believe that my natural inclinations and the empathy I developed as a Preschool Teacher, will allow me to help those in need at some of their most vulnerable moments in life. If I combine this with the critical thinking I have learned and my understanding of human experiences, I believe I will be an effective caregiver and a great Nurse.

Ultimately, I would like to pursue a nursing career that focuses on the developmental process and nurturing of children. I think that my experience caring for children as a teacher and my newfound love of patient care will make me an excellent Pediatric Nurse.

Nursing Profile Mike DrakeMike
COCC Nursing Student

My previous life was as a police dispatcher for a very small department, and I had always been interesting in Nursing/Medicine. I decided it was time for a career change and my wife had been living in Bend when we met so it was an easy choice as to where we would make our home.

The COCC Nursing Program is small and intimate, you get to know your instructors very well. This is not a "weed-out" program, like many others, so there is a lot of emphasis put on teamwork and getting everyone to graduation. I also appreciate the ACEN Accreditation, which allows me the flexibility of leaving the state to practice Nursing, if needed.

The COCC faculty have a wide variety of experiences in Nursing which translates into producing well-rounded students for the field. The faculty is also enthusiastic about teaching which brings an excitement and energy toward being a nurse.

I spent a decent amount of time in the Emergency Department as a child, always getting stitches in my face, and loved the Nurses. As I got more familiar with the hospital environment, I realized that it was the Nurses who did a lot of the healing. I wanted to be able to focus on the patients and Nursing puts you on the frontline.

I would ultimately like to work in a critical care setting like the ICU or ED. I will start on my RN-BSN Winter of 2022.

COCC Nursing Student Profile - CoryCory
COCC Nursing Student

I moved to Bend from upstate NY in 2015 after graduating college. I worked in the outdoor industry guiding at-risk youth and young adults in a backpacking style wilderness therapy program. In order to be a guide you needed to complete a course and obtain a certification called Wilderness First Responder. That course was my first exposure to medicine. I enjoyed the course so much and wanted to continue learning more about treating patients in an emergency situation. So not long after, I registered for the 6-month EMT-B program at COCC. This course, again, validated my passion for emergency medicine and the 6-month course flew by. Once I got my Oregon license, I worked for a company that provided medical support for events, and eventually transitioned into working for the team that provides technical rescue and medical support for wildfires throughout the country. I knew I wasn’t content with stopping my education and debated between paramedicine and Nursing. I settled on nursing due to the diversity the career offers.

The COCC Nursing program allowed me to enhance my critical thinking skills with their concept-based learning platform. This approach allows you to dig into the pathophysiology of disease processes and understand how they effect the different body systems and what clinical manifestations you should be looking for in a patient.

The COCC nursing faculty are nurses with years of clinical experience. They have a wealth of knowledge and they are an excellent resource to use throughout the 2-year program. They are open, approachable, and create an atmosphere that is conducive to learning.

I wanted to become a nurse because it is fulfilling to help people when they need it the most. The powerful connection you form with patients in such a short timeframe is a unique and gratifying experience. I was also attracted to the flexibility and diversity a career in nursing offers.

My short-term goal is to get into an ED nurse residency program. Once I have enough experience, I’d like to be a travel nurse, and seeing how different emergency departments, with varying capacities, operate throughout the country. A potential long-term goal is to work as a critical-care flight nurse.

COCC Nursing Student Profile - MyrandaMyranda
COCC Nursing Student

I have lived in Central Oregon for the last 20 years.  I have been a certified pharmacy technician for the last 15 years and continue to work as one while in nursing school.  After I had my second daughter, I decided that I needed a change and began the process of taking medical science prerequisite courses at COCC.  If I didn’t get into the nursing program here at COCC my plan was to go to OIT to pursue medical lab sciences, but as luck would have it, I was accepted on my first try.

I am very grateful that COCC has such a wonderful program.  It has allowed me to not relocate my family to pursue a career.  The program offers many opportunities for learning outside of the hospital setting as well.  I really enjoy the time spent learning about different paths that nurses can take.

The COCC nursing faculty are very supportive of the students and their doors are always open.  They genuinely care about the students and want every one of us to succeed in our perspective nursing careers.  Some of the faculty are currently practicing as nurses, which I find to be very valuable in keeping up to date with current standards and practices.

In all honesty becoming a nurse was never something that I envisioned.  I have always felt comfortable talking with the patients in the pharmacy and getting to know them.  I knew I didn’t want to become a pharmacist, so nursing seemed like a natural progression for me. 

Going into nursing school I was thinking that I would like to be a corrections nurse.  This hasn’t changed yet, but I’d like to keep an open mind about where I will ultimately land as a nurse.

COCC Nursing Student Profile - BenBen
COCC Nursing Student

I received my first college education in Culinary Arts and was a Pastry Chef at a local organic market in Bend when I was first inspired to pursue a medical career. Three summers ago, I was biking down Pilot Butte when I hit a rock and my face had a disgruntled conversation with the pavement. One CT scan, five stitches, and one hell of a shiner later I recognized my Nurse as a familiar customer who was more than willing to tell me how much he loved being an Emergency Department Nurse. I was inspired to look into it, and I decided to take some prerequisite courses. Turns out, I only needed a few courses, and the further I pursued it, the more I felt like I was aligning with what I am meant to do. Medical Science fascinates me, and as I picked up a job as a Phlebotomist at St. Charles, I realized how much I cherish working with people. Since I made this decision, doors have opened and I have never been surer of something in my life. 

I really enjoy the Nursing Faculty. They are very experienced and they love to teach. I am thoroughly impressed with COCC and the Nursing Program; it is affordable, they have great Financial Aid programs, and they are very supportive of your education. 

The Nursing Faculty are clearly dedicated to creating passionate and caring Nurses for the future. Every single faculty member has a unique background that lend to the student’s learning experience very well. During clinicals, the time we spend in the hospital working with patients, each instructor works with 8 students, allowing each student plenty of one-on-one time with the instructor to develop hands-on skills. Every instructor has shown passion for their jobs and are always available to listen and support you through a tough education experience. 

Why do I want to be a Nurse? The short answer would probably be that my strengths align with the skills required of a Nurse: critical thinking, teamwork, quick decision making, compassion, and communication. When people ask me why I want to become a Nurse, I have trouble answering, because I don’t have a strong answer. I want a job where I use my brain and my hands, where I can help people learn from hard situations, where I can make someone laugh, and where I can make a good wage to support a family. I want to have those moments where I can feel a person’s anger and sadness and pain, and I can witness that dense emotion in the room, and I can just be there with them when they go through those beautiful times of life where you learn what being a human truly is about. However, when people ask why I want to be a Nurse, they usually don’t want a long answer, so I just say something like, "I think it fits me well." 

My wife and I were looking at the Northern Washington area, we love the rain and the green forests. We can go anywhere, so I think we are going to move around and not be afraid to try somewhere new. I started Nursing School fully intending on being an Emergency Room Nurse. Currently, I work in the Emergency Room and find that work environment is a great fit for me. BUT the more I see other Nursing careers, the more I wonder if I want to try something else, like Psychiatric, or Surgical, or ICU. I think I’m going to try a few different things, if I can, and wait until something sticks.

COCC Nursing Student Profile - PagePage
COCC Nursing Student

My journey to the COCC Nursing Program began 22 years ago!  I had my first baby then and had the MOST amazing Nurses helping me through the delivery. I honestly thought then and there that this was something I wanted to do. Little did I know, this idea would bubble for a long time, but that it would come to fruition!  I had been an elementary school teacher for 17 years with the idea of becoming a Nurse always in the back of my mind. I finally decided at the ripe old age of 48 that I was going to take the plunge and try for Nursing school. After a year of prerequisite classes, I applied and well, the rest is history.... I am PROUD to say, I will be 51 when I complete COCC's Nursing Program.

I love that I have had the opportunity in this town to pursue my dream. I like that many different ages and backgrounds are represented in our cohort. I have made lifelong friends with people twenty years my junior. Nursing school is rigorous, and it allows you to develop strong bonds with the people you are in the trenches with!

Being a former educator, I can appreciate greatly the different teaching styles the faculty possesses. Each professor has a varied background, and each brings to the classroom something totally different. One professor may focus on therapeutic communication and another on the nitty gritty of pathophysiology. As a student, you are never bored. You are definitely kept on your toes. These professors are experts, and want all of us to succeed.

I am a compassionate person by nature, and there is something inside of me that makes me want to help others. To be empathetic. To educate. I knew that I was ready for a challenge when I decided to leave the education profession. Well, challenge is what I got! Nursing school is by far the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. I believe, aside from having our three children, it will be the most rewarding.

At this very moment, my goal is to be a Hospice Nurse. In school, I have had opportunities to work with hospice patients, and although this can be unsettling to some, I find it extremely rewarding. To be able to support others in such a difficult time is ultimately my goal. What is appealing about the profession is that there are so many opportunities for Nurses. I may decide after hospice care that I want to do something totally unrelated in the profession.  That is what makes Nursing so absolutely amazing!

COCC Nursing Student Profile - KaitlinKatlin
COCC Nursing Student

I was born and raised in Central Oregon and have lived here my whole life. I graduated from Ridgeview High School in 2015 and completed all of my prerequisites for the Nursing Program by 2016. I did not get into the Nursing Program on my first try so I spent a year doing the CNA program and was ecstatic to be accepted into the Nursing Program in the summer of 2017. Before Nursing School, I was a certified shift manager at the Redmond McDonald's and I put in my notice the day that I got my acceptance letter and plan to never go back. COCC was my choice of school because of the benefits of low cost, convenience of location since I am able to put myself through college and so I could stay close to my family.

What I like most about the Nursing Program is our cohort. There are many people of varying ages and backgrounds who all come together in support of one another. If any of us are struggling to learn a new concept or need help with an assignment, there's always several people willing to drop everything and help out. We don't treat anything like a competition, instead we unite and help each other to get through.

The faculty members are very helpful in getting us through this journey. I feel like I can go to any of them with any question or issue and they will gladly help. If it weren't for our instructors, the program would not be what it is and we wouldn't have the support that we do. Every staff member is supportive but they also push us to do our absolute best because they know we can all improve and sometimes it just takes that push to find new confidence in ourselves.

I first remember wanting to be a Nurse when I was in middle school. The only person in my family with any healthcare experience is my great-grandmother who is a Registered Nurse and I have looked up to her throughout my life. Also, growing up, my grandfather and mother both had many health issues involving hospital stays and surgeries which truly made me want to help others during such a stressful, life-altering time. Nursing is a career that you could never get bored with because there is an endless amount of fields and specialties that you can go into so I know that I will be able to be a Nurse for life.

I am currently planning to get my BSN—potentially MSN—and become a WOCN (Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurse). While I work towards this goal, I plan to work at St. Charles to get floor and acute care experience. Right now, I think I'm going to live in Oregon for the rest of my life, however, I never know where the future will take me and am open to all opportunities that Nursing will provide.

Nursing Student A WoodsAmanda
COCC Nursing Student

I was born and raised in Bend, and have lived here my entire life. Growing up, I always had a heart for helping others. I spent a majority of my time volunteering for different organizations through my church and community. I also spent time working as a Rock Climbing Instructor for children and as a Lead Coordinator for the youth department at the Athletic Club of Bend. No one in my family had any experience in health care, so I really had no idea what opportunities were out there. It wasn't until my senior year of high school when I took my first Anatomy and Physiology class that I was introduced to careers in the health care field. Nursing fit my personality perfectly, as it tied in my love for helping others with my love for learning about the human body. I began researching different colleges and COCC seemed to be the perfect fit for me--financially and practically. After graduating high school in 2016, I began completing the prerequisite courses and program requirements, finishing them within a year. In the summer of 2017, I was accepted into the Nursing Program on my first try, and at the age of 19, began pursuing my degree in Nursing.

The sense of community that unifies our 48 person cohort is one of the most amazing things about the COCC Nursing Program. The challenge and intensity of the program has made us a family, which is something we'll carry with us long after we graduate. The program itself is rigorous yet rewarding. It is set up for your success with resources for every learning style: from hand-on lab and clinical experience, intellectually engaging lecture material, and group work and projects. I have been pushed academically and clinically throughout this program which has helped me grow immensely. I have also gained more confidence in myself than I ever thought possible and in my abilities to succeed as a future Nurse.

The COCC Nursing Faculty is the backbone of the program. They go above and beyond all expectation in order to help every student succeed. The faculty knows exactly what the students are going through as they have once been in our shoes and understand the sacrifice it takes to be successful in Nursing School. The staff is supportive and respectful, yet they know how to challenge and push us toward growth and success as Nurses in the real world.

Throughout Nursing School, I have struggled internally with the question of Why do I want to be a Nurse? I became so overwhelmed with all the material, all the testing, the long hours of studying, the early and the late clinical shifts, the pressure of passing, and the constant stress that I didn't know if I wanted to continue. I questioned if it was worth it and if what I was doing was meaningful. It wasn't until winter term of my second year that I had a breakdown. I was ready to quit and throw in the towel. However, it was because of that raw and vulnerable moment that I began to understand why I truly wanted to be a Nurse. Being a Nurse has meaning to me. I am becoming equipped with the innate ability to step into people's lives and make a difference; to see people at their best and at their worst. As a Nurse, I get to practice empathy for what my patients are feeling, understand what they are thinking, comfort them when they are afraid and provide for what they need. I have the honor of being with people when they take their first breaths and their last breaths. I have the opportunity to set aside all judgment, all criticism, and all pride in order to kneel down besides those in need. There truly is nothing more beautiful and more meaningful to me than using my skills, knowledge and immense love for others in order to be there for them at their best, fight for them at their worst, love them at their weakest, and celebrate with them during their victories. No matter how difficult the days may get, I will never forget daily reminders why I chose to become a Nurse.

The Nursing profession is full of endless possibilities for career paths, making it hard to choose just one. However, that is one of the most amazing things about Nursing-- you don't have to choose one career path. At this point, I am not certain yet where I would like to end up in the field. Once I graduate, I plan to pursue a job in the acute care setting at St. Charles Health System in order to solidify all the skills I learned throughout school. I would love to gain my CCRN certification and work in an acute/critical care setting. Eventually, I plan to further my education with my BSN/MSN. My fiancé, who is currently earning a Master's Degree in Teaching, and I hope to, one day, combine our love for helping/serving others with our love for travel and take our degrees abroad.


COCC Nursing Student Profile - KealeyThomas
COCC Nursing Student

I was born and raised in Bend and my mother has worked at St. Charles for 30 years. She also graduated from a COCC health careers program back in 1990, so I have always had an awareness and respect for COCC, given their role in my own mother's career path. After my wife attained her Master's degree from OSU Cascades and was blessed with a teaching position for Bend- La Pine Schools, the timing felt right to for me to pursue my career in the health field. When it came time to research higher education, COCC was first my first choice due to the fantastic location in Central Oregon, the school's role in my own mother's career path, and the reputation of the school's very successful health careers programs. After the year-and-a-half process of completing the course prerequisites and after taking the TEAS test, I finally applied to the Nursing program and was accepted. The day I received my acceptance letter was literally one of the best days of my life! Before pursuing my nursing career, I worked in various capacities and settings for the better part of a decade following high school. I was employed as a musician, I cooked in fine dining establishments, led sports camps for kids, and worked as the lead sales consultant for Samsung Telecommunications.

I absolutely love the comradery and culture of the COCC Nursing program. Having a good cohort makes all the difference when you are undertaking something as challenging as nursing school, so it has been a huge blessing to be surrounded by such an encouraging, compassionate, driven, and supportive group of people. You really start to feel like a family as you experience times of turbulence and triumph alongside each other for a few months. Also, the quality and quantity of information that is presented to us is impressive and will change the way you see and experience life. The way in which the program is designed will grow you at an exponential rate that you didn't know was possible.

The faculty members are fantastic! They are knowledgeable and helpful while being relatable and relational. They will truly go the extra mile to help any student understand the concepts that may be a struggle. With over one-hundred years of nursing experience between them (their words, not mine), their backgrounds and experiences are varied and fascinating. Their unified goal as a staff is to help every student succeed and become the best nurse they could possibly be.

When it came time to choose a career path, I used my love for people, love for science and medicine, and desire to help others to inform my decision and nursing seemed like the clear choice. Additionally, as I previously mentioned, my mother worked in the healthcare industry for thirty years, so I grew up spending a lot of time at the hospital and that made the healthcare environment feel very much like home to me. In 2014, I began volunteering at St. Charles Bend in the emergency department and had the opportunity to observe nurses interacting with their patients and it was life changing. I got to see first-hand the positive impact a good nurse can have on the lives of their patients and their patient's families. To support, advocate, and fight for people when they are at their most vulnerable, and perhaps lowest, is something that I feel passionate about and want to do with my life.

I would really love to work in the acute care setting at St. Charles Medical Center. As previously mentioned, I grew up spending lots of time in that hospital and it feels like home to me. I currently work on the IMCU (telemetry) floor as a CNA and I find the heart unit very interesting, challenging, and rewarding, so I would love to work there if it lines up right. The ER is also very interesting to me due to the fast-pace atmosphere and the challenge of patient's immediate needs. I plan to get my BSN whilst working for the next few years and am open to the idea of continuing my education in the future to get a license as Nurse Practitioner or a Physician's Assistant.


Nursing Student profile SarahCOCC Nursing Student

I have a strong agricultural background and originally pursued a Pre-Veterinary Medicine degree at Oregon State University. After working toward this degree for a year, I realized it wasn't the path I wanted to take so I moved home to figure out where to go from there. I stumbled into a job as a caregiver and immediately knew I wanted a job in the healthcare field.

Our cohort and instructors are awesome. It's amazing how 48 strangers from vastly different backgrounds can come together and be so supportive of one and other.

Our instructors are motivated to see us succeed and work so hard to get us there. They understand that "life happens" and support us in all aspects of our lives as we try to navigate nursing school. Between clinical hours and classroom content, they set us up for success for the NCLEX and as future nurses.

It's such a rewarding feeling to take care of others and make a difference in someone's life. Having the opportunity to help a patient when they need it most, and overcome challenges to help restore their health is something I genuinely enjoy.

After finishing the program, I hope to begin my career at a hospital where I can gain experience and build a solid foundation for my skills and knowledge as a nurse. My long term goal is to ultimately work in an operating room. One of my clinical rotations last year was at the Bend Surgery Center and I loved how the surgical team in each operating room worked cohesively together.

Nursing Student profile CourtneyCOCC Nursing Student

I started going to COCC in January of 2014. I knew that I wanted to study medicine of some sort, but wasn't sure which route to take. After a few terms of taking basic core classes, I decided to pursue a biology degree. About three years into the biology degree, I had an epiphany – I wanted to be a Midwife! I had never considered going into Nursing before, but it seemed like the most optimal route to take. Thus, I began my intense journey of applying for and getting into the Nursing Program.

This program and profession are more difficult and more rewarding than I ever expected them to be. The program is fast-paced and academically intensive, but they set it up so we get a good mix of lecture and hands-on experience. Upon beginning the program, I was most impressed by the "General Hospital" setup they have for us to work in on the third floor of the HCC building. Our simulated hospital lab is almost like the real thing and helped relieve the fear of entering the local hospital as a Student Nurse for the first time!

The COCC Nursing faculty is amazing! I have never felt so supported and respected by my instructors. They make themselves available to us regularly, which is rare, in many other college programs. I feel very fortunate to have created a relationship with both my classmates and instructors, as I don't think my experience in the program would be as successful without them.
I love science, I love medicine, and I love helping people. Nursing is the perfect platform for me to combine all three. It is my mission and honor to provide compassionate, healing, and therapeutic care for patients and their families during a difficult and scary time in life.

At this point, I'm not exactly sure where I will end up in the broad field of Nursing. I am very interested in exploring the option of becoming a worldwide Travel Nurse! I would love to work in emergency medicine while waiting to pursue my Master's Degree in Midwifery and work with populations all over the world. I cannot imagine a career more fitting for me – I am beyond excited to be a Nurse!

Nursing Student profile GeorgeGeorge
COCC Nursing Student

Prior to moving to Bend in 2010, I worked in a career involving the winter sports industry. I covered a sales territory for Head and a few other companies working with owners of ski resorts and shops. I no longer wanted to travel so much for work so I made a decision to change careers and started as a Physical Therapy Rehabilitation Aide. I enjoyed the patient interaction and this position helped expand and explore my understanding of the medical side of this occupation. After learning COCC had a top notch-nursing program, the wheels began to turn and I never looked back. While working full-time, I completed the Nursing prerequisites, which took 2 years; I then applied for the Nursing Program and was accepted on my first attempt.

The Nursing Program has been challenging and rewarding at the same time. I know through this type of challenge, I will become the best nurse I can be and achieve my highest potential! I would not have it or accept this in any other way. This program has pushed me every day (and I really mean every day) to reach just a little bit higher and stretch just a little bit farther. The Nursing program is truly changing my life for the better.

The Nursing faculty is knowledgeable, caring, and accessible. They are the main facilitators to the growth each of us students go through. They are there beside us every step of the way and we have such tremendous support with the Nursing faculty. They are here for our success and we lean on them often. They reassure us, cheer us on, and we, as students, feel fully supported. You will never find a better team of dedicated educators. End of discussion!

The field of Nursing has limitless possibilities and is a remarkable and honorable profession. One of the many reasons I am going to be a Nurse is the incredible amount of diversity and the endless options available in Nursing. Previously, I had my heart set on surgical Nursing but at this point of my education, I am keeping an open mind. The Clinical Rotations built into our curriculum allow the students to explore many opportunities in the Nursing Profession in our local community.

Nursing Student profile HeatherHeather
COCC Nursing Student

I guess you can say nursing is in my blood, I come from a family with several nurses, including both of my grandmothers, and my great-great grandmother who was a well-known midwife in Missouri. I grew up in Redmond 3rd generation and graduated high school in 2015. I jumped right in to the prerequisites for nursing school and started to explore what all this career has to offer. In the fall of 2016, I transferred to COCC from Eastern Oregon University and completed the CNA program. That experience proved to me that nursing is my passion and allowed me to prepare myself for the intensity of the nursing program. I was accepted for fall 2017 and am thankful for having the opportunity to pursue what I love.

I enjoy the program's diversity. The students come from such varying backgrounds, yet we help each other expand our knowledge and support one another. I also appreciate that the learning settings are diverse —theory with the book material, lab with hands on skills, and clinical with applying all the knowledge we are gaining at a reasonable pace. In clinical, it is wonderful to be exposed to different fields of nursing and find out more about those environments before choosing what field we may potentially go into.

I believe we are lucky to have a local program that is small enough for a more personalized education. The focus is on us as individual students. Each instructor has varying methods of presenting material and caters to different ways that we students learn. I find that I learn something new from each instructor on the same topic, giving us a broader perspective. Every instructor is approachable and for shy people like me, being comfortable enough to ask questions is essential. We regularly receive feedback in clinical and lab settings on how we handle certain situations, which provides us with opportunities to grow in the areas we need it most.

I cannot remember a time where I did not want to do something involving healthcare. It was not until high school that I found myself being drawn towards nursing, but I have always had a passion and interest in helping children specifically.

Children often feel intimidated, alone, or simply do not understand how to address their own health. Nurses-- whether it be though treating sicknesses, advocating for that patient to have access to resources, educating them, or preventing illness—strive to provide these things for their patients, while also making them feel less frightened or confused. I truly feel this is my calling.

Ultimately, I want to be in a family birthing center as a midwife, or be a pediatric nurse practitioner. No matter what path I choose, I want to help give babies and kids a healthy and strong beginning to life, so they can grow into healthy adults. I am also drawn to the rural setting, where access to care and necessary resources may be more limited. Until then, I am happy to gain experience in any field of nursing.

Nursing student profile ClintClint
COCC Nursing Student

I've lived in Bend for the last 18 years. In my previous life I worked with at risk teens and young adults in a local wilderness therapy school. This program encouraged it's employees to seek out pertinent educational experiences whenever they presented themselves. For me, I have always been drawn to the medical profession due to the emphasis on continuing education, critical thinking and compassionate care. It was soon revealed to me that I truly enjoyed patient care, so I became an EMT. I've been working for this program for 12 years, the last 6 years as an EMT and Medical Coordinator. Through this experience I've discovered that I LOVE patient care! From the education of patients, to direct medical care, to community teaching opportunities focusing on staff education. Sufficed to say, I got hooked, and I wanted to expand on my medical and patient care knowledge. The Nursing program at COCC was the perfect fit!

Since the first day of class, I've been amazed and impressed by the "No Person Left Behind" attitude of our entire cohort, and instructors! We all support, encourage and pick each other up. A year ago we were all strangers sitting nervously awaiting our fate, and now I feel as if I can talk to anyone or ask anyone for advice or help, especially the instructors. Everyone here wants every person in the cohort to succeed. Additionally, the COCC Nursing Program does an amazing job of exposing it's students to as many different nursing careers as possible, while providing meaningful in-class material and hands on experience through labs. This is a challenging, time-consuming program. I don't know how I'd get through this without the help and support from my amazing wife and kid.

My previous college experience was at Southern Oregon University where I received my Bachelors of Science several years ago. It has been a while since I was so ensconced in academia, and this program hits the road running from day one. I was worried that I would be able to keep up and manage my time appropriately, juggling work and school and family. The faculty at COCC understand that this program asks for your full commitment, and that life happens. My experience with the faculty has been nothing but positive. They bring to the table years of experience in the nursing profession, from different specialties, across several decades. One of the first questions that we were asked on the first day of class was: What kind of nurse do you want to be? Not necessarily where do you want to specialize, but do you want to be an OK nurse or a great nurse. From what I've gleaned from the faculty, they want all of us to be amazing nurses, and they'll push you to that end.

For me, I've always been impressed with how nurses interact with patients in such a caring, confident, non-judgmental way. From the palliative care that my mother-in-law received during her last days in Hospice, to the critical care my father-in-law received in ICU, to the Emergency Department nurses that I've worked with. I have always viewed nursing as a noble and trusted profession that realizes that nobody wants to be sick, hurt, impaired, confused or scared. And it's specifically this profession that channels these feelings and emotions to build trust and compassion with each patient, a very daunting task. My wife was the one who initially suggested that I consider becoming a nurse, and at first I brushed it off as something that I didn't think I'd be good at. But over the years, both as working as an EMT and direct experience with nurses, I've realized just how amazing this profession is. I'm looking forward to beginning my new career but I also realize that becoming an RN is just the beginning of my learning.

With my background in pre-hospital care, I thought that I would transition to the Emergency Department as soon as I could after becoming an RN. But, this program has done so much to open my eyes to all of the possible directions a nurse could professionally go. For now, I'm going to allow the process to work it's magic over me and see where I end up at the end of this program, keeping as many options available to me as possible.

Nursing Student profile JonathanJonathan
COCC Nursing Student

Q: How did you end up in the COCC Nursing program? (What was your previous life before Nursing School?)

My family ran a successful all-phase landscape business that primarily focused on providing tree spraying services, noxious weed spraying services and any subcontracted work from the myriad of other landscape companies not able to provide these specialized services to their clients.  Through some difficult situations I chose to start the journey to complete the prerequisites needed for nursing school after being part owner of this family run landscape business for 20 years.  My wife was pregnant and gave birth to our son during this transitionary period of my life. Before then, becoming a nurse wasn't really on my radar of future goals I wanted to accomplish. Heck, we were financially stable and going merrily along and life was like a dream right? Well, not so much. We were having problems becoming pregnant and our family wasn't growing as I had imagined it would. Funny how life is filled with character building moments, isn't it?

Q: What do you like about the COCC Nursing program?

I do not know how to compare other nursing programs to COCC's in terms of one being better then another (but COCC really is). What I do know and like about COCC's nursing program is the closeness it has brought our cohort together. The struggle is real and not just a cliché in the challenges this program extracts from you as an individual. The challenges can include scholastic and personal struggles. These struggles help shape and define how you develop as an individual becoming part of something bigger within this program. Me, personally, realizing that my other classmates in this cohort are going through these same trials brings us closer. I have learned it is about supporting one another. Our cohort has really become like family supporting one another, however it is needed. It is very truthful that we will continue to have fundamentally changed throughout these two years of pursing our dreams to become Registered Nurses.

Q: What do you find most valuable about the COCC Nursing faculty?

I have been around college faculty pretty much my whole life. My mom was the Media Services supervisor for COCC from 1988 to 2006. I attended OSU's turfgrass program from 1999 to 2001 and my wife started her higher education career in 2010 to present. COCC's faculty is the gold standard! Being able to really connect with a professor is one of the biggest advantages of attending a community college. They really do care and want to invest their time to make a change in your life. By having smaller class sizes, I really felt like I was important and not someone who was just there to invest in the professor's book that is published. In this program we are juggling lecture, nursing lab experience and hands on clinical experience all with exams and assignments. The organization required for this is mind blowing. I am truly grateful for the amount of effort each one of COCC's faculty puts forth to fundamentally change who we are, and who we will become as nurses.

Q: Why do you want to be a nurse?

I didn't know I wanted to be a nurse. It wasn't until six years into marriage that we were led to the path of a nursing career. My wife and I struggled with unexplained infertility for these six years. We had success with IVF after many other options failed. We lost our son's twin during the second trimester. A few weeks after that during a camping trip my wife experienced a sub-chorionic tear/hemorrhage that put us in the ER. These were truly trying times that took an emotional toll. These were the times that I truly saw what the medical field is all about. The amount of compassion, patience and humanity really left a lasting impression on me. If given the chance to impart any of the love of compassion, education, or presence given to my family, to someone who is in need, then I feel like I would be on the right path.

Q: Where do you want to ultimately work and in what capacity?

Nursing has a ton of job opportunities. It is a profession that is always in demand. Nursing is an ethical and honest profession with lots of career flexibility. I am often asked what type of nurse I want to be in casual conversation. I think part of becoming a nurse is understanding what type of personal choice you make to find fulfillment in the job environment you chose. Thankfully at COCC we are afforded different outside learning experiences in our community. All of these experiences have been great for me. So, it is tough right now to lock down where I ultimately want to be. I would like to learn more about the field of genetic editing and how my education can potentially help shape this role.

Nursing student profile E MuckElizabeth
COCC Nursing Student

I moved over here from the Eugene area about 6 years ago, right out of high school with the intention of getting my RN through COCC. My sister was a nurse over here and had gone through the COCC program. Since her plan was successful, I thought it would work for me as well. As I started doing the required prerequisites, I met my husband. Two years later, prerequisites were done, and I was able to start applying for the program. It was a long road getting accepted into the program, taking a few attempts at applying. I was finally accepted 4 years later, and I can say with confidence it was worth the wait.

From the start of my prerequisites until being accepted into the nursing program, I worked my way up from being a care aid at an assisted living center to working at the hospital as a CNA2. Also, in that time, my husband and I got married and had our first child, a son, who is the most amazing little human; our life is an adventure every day with him. Being a wife and mother has inspired me to fulfill my dream of becoming a registered nurse even more. The chance to make a difference in people's lives, the overall knowledge, the career opportunities, and the financial stability as an RN are incredible. To have all those things not only for myself, but for my family as well, is so important to me. This program was the opportunity that could provide all those things and open a lot of doors for our future.

I knew I wanted to be a nurse when I was ten and my mother's life journey took her over the hurdle of breast cancer. Witnessing all the compassion and comfort the nurses gave to my mother made, me feel less scared and in those moments, I knew that being able to do that for other people would be amazing accomplishments in life. That's why I want to be a nurse, so I can help be the compassion and comfort in peoples' most vulnerable times and make a difference in their lives.

The COCC Nursing program has been an awesome experience. So far throughout this program, I have grown so much as a person and overcome many challenges, ultimately bettering myself. The faculty are inspiring. They work so hard to prepare everything for the program and are there when anyone needs support. In my experience, it seems like they really want all their students to succeed and will help where ever they can when one is in a hard spot. They are constantly looking for ways to improve their program, the materials in it and ways to support students. They are all very passionate about what they teach, which makes you want to be as passionate when learning it all.

I love that the COCC Nursing program is both economically reasonable and high quality. I feel as though the education I am receiving is providing me all the tools and knowledge to be a successful and great nurse. I also love the fact that from the beginning of the program we are submersed into the nursing world with clinicals that start right away in fall term. I truly valued the time in clinicals since they helped me incorporate and utilize the materials covered in lecture into the real world of nursing.

Before I started the COCC Nursing program, I thought I knew exactly where I wanted to work as a nurse, but now I'm not so sure. Since the program has given me quite a few opportunities at experiencing some of the different areas of nursing, I'm sort of stumped. There are so many different areas RNs can work. I think for now I will focus on learning as much as I can from the second year of this program. Come graduation, I know I will have a better idea of where I want to start my life-long career as a registered nurse and ultimately my journey of helping people through compassion, empathy and love.

Student Profile - KellyKelly
COCC Nursing Student

My journey to entering the COCC nursing program was a long, complex adventure. I grew up with a family of healthcare professionals, yet after high school I went to Cal State Long Beach and earned a bachelor's degree in marine biology, a goal I had set my mind to since I was a young girl. Just prior to graduation, I had some health challenges arise, which caused me to change paths in order to keep my health insurance. Rather than working in an industry that I loved, I chose to work my way up the corporate ladder through two major US companies until I finally realized that I was no longer happy and was underutilized in my role. After reconnecting with family in Oregon, my husband and I moved to Bend (where I was born) in 2011. I began working for a company that supports adults with developmental disabilities and truly fell in love with helping support the clients in daily activities that most of us take for granted. I found out about the COCC Nursing Program from a good friend at work and decided to look into what it would entail. I always wanted to go back to school and loved helping people, but was I too old to go back? After careful consideration, support from my family and lots of prayer, I returned to school in spring 2015 to complete the remainder of the prerequisites for the Nursing Program. A year later, I completed the requirements, applied to the program, and anxiously awaited my acceptance letter. Receiving that letter is one of the proudest moments of my life.

I am truly honored and humbled to be a part of the COCC Nursing Program. This program is respected and loved by the Central Oregon community, and now that I am a part of it, I understand why. I truly appreciate how immersive the program is placing us in the clinical setting early on in our education with tons of in-class lectures and lab hours. I love how the program is training us to care for people as a whole to look beyond the disease or diagnosis and truly treat the patients every need. The COCC Nursing program is a professional, fast-paced and challenging program that facilitates growth and comradery amongst its students. In the short amount of time we have been in this program, I have made some very strong connections and friendships with my fellow classmates.

The backbone of this program is the COCC Nursing Faculty they work tirelessly through the year to create an enriched learning environment within the college and the community of Bend. The love and dedication that the instructors have for the students is evident in their willingness to help, encourage, educate, and motivate each student through this program. The faculty truly want each student to succeed and they are willing to sit down and listen to anyone who steps into their office. I have never felt so supported and genuinely cared for by an instructor until I met the COCC Nursing Faculty.

I have always had a strong desire to help others whether it was through job training or teaching classes at local aquariums I found that aspect of life quite enjoyable. Working with special needs individuals, providing end-of-life care for my grandfather and in-home care for other family members is what truly shaped my decision to become a nurse. I want to help be a voice for people who may not have the means to speak up for themselves whether by lack of verbal ability, loss of cognition or any other form of communication barrier that could be present. I enjoy critical thinking, sharing knowledge amongst my peers, and brainstorming especially in regards to patient care. Bringing peace and joy to patients through memories, music, or by simply holding their hand especially during what could be some of their darkest moments in life is what drives me to become a nurse.

There is so much variety to where you can work as a nurse, which is why I appreciate the wide range of clinical experiences we are offered as students. While I do not know the exact setting of where I want to spend the bulk of my nursing career just yet, but I do know that I plan to earn a BSN and possibly a Masters degree so that I can become a nursing instructor one day. As for now, I am absorbing as much as I can from each clinical experience and know that I want to work in a hospital setting. I am interested in several areas including critical care, peri-and-post-operative, geriatric care, and hospice

Student Profile - ClaytonClayton
COCC Nursing Student

I moved to Bend from San Francisco three years ago, mainly for the outdoor lifestyle and beautiful weather I had heard about. I had worked in restaurants for five years, and it was a fine way to pay my bills for a little while, but I definitely wanted to feel a deeper sense of purpose out of my life and knew I had to get into a different long-term career.

My mother was told she would never have kids, but after a new experimental procedure and many prayers, here I am. I probably wouldn't be here if it wasn't for the miracle of modern medicine and I think it was for this reason that Ive always been drawn towards the field. I want it to be my job to help people who are at their most vulnerable, to make a difference in their lives by showing them compassion, empathy and most importantly love.

I looked at private school RN programs but decided that COCC was the quickest and most economical route for me (plus that meant I never had to leave Bend).

The program at COCC has turned out to be amazing! I love how much and how quickly you get hands-on experience in the hospital, but the best part of the program is definitely the faculty. They are incredibly invested and care so much about shaping the way we think to become competent nurses; I cant imagine you would find this at many other programs.

As of right now, I hope to eventually end up in the operating room, but who knows where this road will take me. If you feel like its time for a career change in your life, make it happen! COCC is here to help.

Adrian CoonAdrian
Former COCC Nursing Student

I have had an interest in medicine since I was very young.  Life took me in a different direction for a bit, but after a family member passed away, I started exploring the nursing field.  I was immediately impressed with the good reviews I heard about the program – not just from other students, but the community as a whole.  When I decided to apply, I received praise and support from friends and strangers alike.  It made me feel confident in my decision to pursue a degree in Nursing from COCC.

I enjoy so many things about the program!  I was impressed with how quickly we were participating in clinicals at the hospital and putting our skills to use.  Also, the faculty are great and really accessible; I've utilized almost everyone for guidance at some point.  Mostly, I enjoy the nursing class.  I feel like we have a great camaraderie; everyone is happy and willing to help one another.

I appreciate the nursing staff and how much they legitimately care about the students.  I've had the opportunity to sit down with each instructor for various reasons, and I always felt welcomed.  Whether discussing lecture material or future career opportunities, the instructors are one of my greatest allies in the nursing program.

I thought when I entered the program, I would be more enthralled with the crazy cases I would get to see.  I knew I would obviously be working in a personal, intense atmosphere with patients, but that part did not register much with me.  I have found the opposite to be true, though.  In the short time I have been in the program, I have been amazed and humbled by the conversations and connections I've made with patients.  I personally believe it speaks so much to the human connection that we all share.  It is that notion that inspires me to work harder, study longer, and absorb everything I can in this short time to become a good nurse.

As of right now, I see myself working in an acute care setting.  I enjoy the intensity and fast-paced nature of the hospital atmosphere.  However, I am doing my best to stay open to the process and explore different options while I am in the program.  I am very interested in internal medicine; however, I find it all fascinating at this point!  I think that is what is so exciting about the nursing field: there is an avenue for everyone's interests. 

Former COCC Nursing Student

After high school I rejected the thought of going to college like many young graduates and began working, hoping to find a passion. Along this path, I worked many jobs gaining experience in many trades of construction and customer service. However, it wasn't until I received a position at a medical clinic that made it all come together. I discovered how much I loved working with people, my fascination with the human body, and medicine.

Counter intuitive of most thought processes, my favorite part about the program was how hard it was to be accepted. I worked tirelessly over two years to make my dream a reality, and it makes me even more proud when people in the community acknowledge the dedication it took to be a part of this program. Completing the program, I discovered the experience has been everything and more than I had dreamed of. I like the difficulty, and how it constantly forces me to elevate to another level of academic performance. Though the program is very intense with many critical concepts and skills to learn, it is concise and well organized.

On my first day, I had the privilege of meeting individuals that are more dedicated to their job than anyone I've met; our team of instructors. What impressed me the most, was their passion but also their ability to laugh with us and cry with us. They genuinely listen to our concerns and will make changes if they're able. They take on this daunting task every year of teaching forty eight stressed out students for nine months with a smile. Hats off to you ladies.

Being a nurse will give me the fulfillment and daily stimulation that no other job or career can. It encompasses all of the things that I had enjoyed about my slew of previous positions. It won't feel like a job for me. I look forward to clinical the same way that I look forward to any of my other hobbies. I undoubtedly love it.

When considering the area of nursing where I wish to work, I believe the answer goes along with where I am as a maturing Nurse.  As of now, I would like to either work on the medical floor or in the O.R. Later down the road in life, I'd like to pursue psychiatric nurse practitioner. I want to assist in guiding the teen demographic through their challenges.

Former COCC Nursing Student

I have known that nursing is the career I wanted to pursue since I was a little kid. When I was in middle school my mom came down with a horrible kidney infection that brought here near to death. She was surrounded by absolutely wonderful nurses; and I knew that I wanted to have a huge impact on someone's life. After high school I had a little girl and took a year off from school. I began my nursing journey doing pre-reqs 6 years ago. I finished all of my requirements and applied my first year. Sadly I was about a point off from getting in. This didn't stop me. I applied to Lane Community College Licensed Practical Nurse program and got in. I started there January of 2014 and graduated September of 2014. I worked for a year as an LPN and applied for the transfer position here at COCC. to finish my dreams of becoming an RN. I have had the experience of two different schools and the teachers at this school have gone above and beyond to make me fit in. It has been nice to get so many different nurses' perspectives. I hope to become a Labor and Delivery Nurse. I have had the honor of being a Labor Coach for a few of my friends and I feel like I am meant to do that. After the wonderful education that I am getting here I know that I will be able to fulfill my dreams of being a competent and knowledgeable nurse.

Former COCC Nursing Student

I found out about the COCC Nursing Program after moving to Bend in 2012. I transferred here to work for a business in the Old Mill District, owned by a company I had worked for almost 18 years. I knew I wanted a career change, but I was 46 years old. The Nursing Program here provides an affordable, excellent education combining an experienced and caring staff with outstanding clinical exposure at St. Charles Medical Center. The instructors at COCC are supportive, knowledgeable and take the extra time to help when I find myself struggling with new ideas or skills. They are proactive in caring and put an incredible amount of time into designing the syllabus and hands-on portions of our labs and clinical days. I had thought about nursing after witnessing the amazing care received during a family member's lengthy illness and hospitalization some years ago. It left an impression on my life, one I hope to return by offering my own care as a nurse. I plan to complete a master's degree in nursing eventually and would love to work in the perioperative environment or in critical care at a hospital. We shall see where this road takes me.