Registered Nursing Program Grad Cody Neiswonger’s Winding Road to Success
Cody Neiswonger is living proof there’s no such thing as a “typical” Carrington College student.
While many colleges and universities focus on enrolling students directly out of high school, Carrington has a rich history of welcoming non-traditional and older students into its various programs.
Cody is one of them. He was a 30-year-old Air Force veteran when he enrolled in Carrington’s Medical Assisting program on the Mesa campus five years ago. He completed his program nine months later and worked in the healthcare field for nearly three years when he decided to return to Carrington in 2018 to earn his Registered Nursing degree.
After graduating from the accelerated 24-month RN program in August, he’s now working as a Registered Nurse for the Arizona Department of Corrections, providing medical care to inmates at the Eyman prison facility in Florence.
“You never know where life is going to take you—or how you’re going to get there,” says Cody, who lives in Apache Junction. “Two weeks after I graduated high school, I enlisted in the Air Force. I come from a military family, so it’s what I knew. If someone had told me I’d leave the service at 25, complete two college programs and be employed 10 years later as a registered nurse in a correctional facility, I wouldn’t have believed them. But that’s exactly what happened.”
Shortly after enlisting in the Air Force, Cody completed a basic combat medic training course. When the instructor asked if any students were interested in continuing their training to become medics, he raised his hand.
“It was an intense crash course, and I really loved it”, Cody remembers. “I learned how to start IVs, control bleeding, insert breathing tubes, and stitch people up. It was something I was excited about doing, and I ended up using everything I learned during tours of duty in Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan. When I raised my hand in that class back in 2004, I didn’t realize I was starting a career in healthcare that I would eventually return to years later.”
After six years of active service, Cody returned to the United States and remembers feeling aimless.
“To be honest, I drifted for a while,” Cody says. “I didn’t have a real sense of direction or any clearly defined goals. I was in the Air Force reserves for two years. I earned an associate’s degree in computer aided drafting and design, worked security for a diamond exchange, and was a security guard for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.”
Cody’s mother encouraged him to consider parlaying his military medical experience into a career as a registered nurse, but he resisted.
“I saw things during my military service that I never wanted to see again,” he recalls. “While the idea of a career in healthcare interested me, I knew I didn’t want anything super intense. I visited the campus and checked out the Medical Assisting program. It seemed like a fairly low-stress job for the medical field, so I decided to give it a shot.”
After graduating, Cody worked as a medical assistant in a gastroenterology private practice for a year before becoming a chronic care manager at an internal medicine practice.
“Being a medical assistant was a great start, but after a year or so, I wanted more,” Cody explains. “When I became a chronic care manager, I oversaw the medical care of 200 patients living with chronic health issues like diabetes and heart disease. I educated them about their medications and treatment options, and helped them navigate the medical system. I really enjoyed advocating for patients and being directly involved in helping them get the best possible medical care. After a while, I realized I might actually like providing that care.”
Cody checked out other nursing programs in the Phoenix area and ultimately decided to return to Carrington to pursue his degree in Registered Nursing.
“Returning to Carrington felt like coming home,” he recalls. “People knew me from when I was there earning my Medical Assisting degree. I also loved the idea that I could continue working during the day, go to school at night and still complete my degree in 24 months. Two weeks after I visited the campus, I was attending classes.”
Cody graduated in August, passed his licensing exam in September, and recently received his RN license just weeks ago. After working as a medical assistant at the correctional facility, he applied for a position as a registered nurse. He landed the job and is currently completing a three-week orientation.
Now 35, Cody says he believes his perseverance is a great example to his 10-year-old son, Logan, that “you can achieve anything if you’re willing to work for it.”
“When I got out of the service, I really had no idea where life would take me,” he recalls. “I took a few detours, but I’m in a really good place now. I’m engaged to be married, I have a great kid, and I’m doing work that matters. When you’re a nurse, no two days are ever the same. I like providing care to people who need it, and I thrive on the spontaneity and unpredictability of not knowing what I’ll be doing an hour from now.”
Learn More About A Career In Nursing
Millions of people find careers as nurses to be rewarding and fulfilling. This is a career that you can start with as much or as little education as you want. Learn more about different levels of nursing, nursing school and how to become a nurse.