For Registered Nursing Program Graduate Krista Colbert, Life is a Balancing Act
If you think your life is hectic, welcome to Krista Colbert’s world.
When it comes to walking the tightrope between school, work, and family, Colbert, 28, is in a league of her own.
After commuting three hours a day, six days a week, to clinical rotations and classes at Carrington’s Mesa campus—and working per diem as a Home Health Assistant—she graduated in April with her Associate of Science degree in Registered Nursing. Every night, she returned home to her four-year-old son and an 80-year-old great-aunt, who has Alzheimer’s Disease and has lived with Colbert and her mother in Globe, Arizona for the past seven years.
While it’s more responsibility than many could manage, Colbert says she thrives on the energy and satisfaction she gets from taking care of others.
“Fortunately, I don’t need as much sleep as some people—and I drink a lot of coffee,” says Colbert, who landed a job as a Registered Nurse in the Medical Surgery unit at Cobre Valley Regional Medical Center within a week after graduating from Carrington. “I guess I’m a caregiver by heart, which is why I’ve always loved working with kids. I was a nanny, a substitute pre-school teacher, and a camp counselor. I always thought I’d end up becoming a teacher.”
But when Colbert was 19, one of her close friends was seriously injured in a car accident and she moved from Texas to South Carolina to help care for him.
“That’s when I first discovered I really loved taking care of others—and that I was good at it,” Colbert recalls. “A few years later, I moved to Arizona to help my mother care for my great-aunt.”
After earning her Nursing Assistant certificate at Eastern Arizona College, Colbert began working as a Licensed Nursing Assistant at a skilled nursing facility in early 2017. While Colbert is no longer juggling classes and the long commute, her busy life recently became even busier. She and her mother, Julie, recently became foster parents to two brothers, ages six and 10 months.
“When your life is as full as mine, you learn to grab a little ‘me time’ whenever and wherever you can,” she says. “Some people think of driving to and from work as wasted time. But for me, it’s a great chance to be alone, unwind, listen to music, and think. You have to make the most of that kind of time to avoid burning out.”
Colbert says she and her mom, who works full-time as an Emergency Medical Technician, do their best to coordinate work schedules so that each can enjoy an occasional break from their very full lives.
“We each make sure the other has moments of peace and quiet,” she says. “Three adults and three kids in one house is a lot. A few days ago, I took the boys to the lake for the day so my mom could have a little break. She does the same for me. It helps both of us maintain our balance.”
Colbert says that having something to look forward to also helps keep her motivated.
“In September, I’m going to Colorado to hike near Pike’s Peak,” she says. “For me, the anticipation between now and then is half the fun. As much as I love my life and everyone in it, it’s great to step back and catch my breath every now and then.”
So what does the future hold for Colbert? Not surprisingly, she has plans in place.
“I’m hoping that within six to 12 months, I’ll be working in the Intensive Care Unit or the emergency room,” she says. “I also want to return to school to earn my Bachelor of Science in Nursing. My longer term goal become a Nurse Practitioner and work in a clinic setting with Pediatrics or Gerontology patients. Children and seniors are two populations that can most easily be overlooked and underserved.”
Colbert says she’s learned from experience that education equals power.
“When you’re a nursing assistant, for example, you can point out problems or issues you believe could be improved, but you have no real pull or influence to change things,” she says. “Early in my career, I had my heart broken more than once by seeing patients receive lesser care than I believe they deserved. The more education and experience I have, the more of a difference I’ll be able to make.”