After her kids grew older and became more independent, Rachel French found the time to pursue a longtime dream to become a nurse. Now a student at Geisinger Lewistown Hospital School of Nursing, she’s finding personal satisfaction in her new career path.
Going from managing a school to cracking the books as a student has been an interesting journey for Rachel. After years as a manager for a Mennonite school, the McVeytown resident was driven by a desire to pursue a different career path: nursing.
“I'm kind of a nerd,” says Rachel, a current student at Geisinger Lewistown School of Nursing. “I love learning about how the body works and the pathophysiology behind things.”
A son with a chronic condition who has required skilled nursing care since he was an infant inspired Rachel’s pursuit of a nursing career. “My life has been tremendously impacted by the care and encouragement he received from his nurses over the years.”
Now that her children are older, Rachel can focus on her own dream, in her own hometown. “I always thought it was pretty amazing that there was an RN program right here in Lewistown,” she says.
But, it hasn’t been easy. “I have three teenagers who are very active in sports and 4H and it can be very challenging trying to balance my school work with their sporting events and activities.”
Rachel’s family understands the demands on her time, helping around the house and acting as “patients” so Rachel can practice her assessment skills. Extra encouragement and perspective are provided by friends old and new. “Fellow students have become friends and we all work to support and help each other.”
The clinical experiences are an invaluable learning tool. “They really give us a great opportunity to care for a wide variety of patients, enhance our classroom instruction and develop our technical skills.”
“I am learning how much more nursing is than just a profession,” says Rachel. “When I applied to the program, I understood on an academic level the job functions of an RN. As I have had the opportunity to do clinical experiences and care for patients, I've been able to experience just how personally rewarding it is to meet different people and help make their lives a little easier when they are going through challenging times.”