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Rhonda Christian is a Hardworking Mother of Four and Recently Graduated Carrington’s ADN Nursing Program at Age 50!

March 15, 2022

Rhonda Christian Please tell me a little bit about yourself.  

I just turned 51 and I graduated nursing school at the age of 50. I’m also a mother of four and I’ve been married for ten years, but I was a single mother for a long time. I worked two jobs for almost ten years before I met my husband. Then, once I met my husband, he said, “you don’t need to work two jobs anymore, you have me now.” But for two years after we were together, I still kept working two jobs. I was always very busy. I think that once I was married with just one child left at home–she is now getting ready to go away to college—I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I had a job that I loved doing medical transcription, but it still felt like something was missing from my life.  

My husband asked me if I would consider going into nursing. At first, I said, “No, no, no…” But then I started thinking about what interests me. I’m interested in taking care of people. I want to make people feel better. I want to help people. That was when I realized that I did want to be a nurse and my nursing journey started. 

 

What motivated you to choose Carrington? 

Well, I searched for an evening nursing program because I needed one that would fit into my schedule. My family was not going to survive if I did not work. At the time, there appeared to be no nursing programs in the evening because Carrington’s program wasn’t showing up online. I called around to all the different schools in Arizona. Then, during a call with a different school, they told me Carrington had an evening Nursing Program that had started the year before. That was when I reached out to Carrington and started the program in April of 2018. 

 

What was your favorite part of your program at Carrington?  

I liked anatomy and physiology, as well as microbiology. They were fun but they were tough. The instructor, Dr. Kimberly Wright, was amazing. I enjoyed her classes. She is a great instructor.  

 

What was the most challenging part of your program? 

Well, I have to give you a little bit of a backstory–I have always been one of those people who never really had to study to do well in school. That changed with nursing school because it was the hardest thing that I ever did. A big challenge was I had to learn how to study and I didn’t know how to do that the right way. I had a chemistry class and I failed a test for the first time in my life. I struggled in the class and eventually created a student action plan with Carrington to get my grade up. That’s when I joined a study group and it helped a lot. Some of my classmates had teaching experience and they were able to teach me chemistry in a way that helped me get it. I did really well on the final. I got an A, which brought my final grade up to a B. 

 

What got you through the challenging times? 

Relying on my classmates. At first, I felt like there is no point in getting to know these people because I am just going to fail chemistry and they are going to leave me behind. Now, they tease me about how I didn’t want to get to know them. We became a very tight-knit group and I have maintained that closeness with them even though I did end up graduating behind them. That was because I got sick and spent a week in the hospital, which is another story! 

 

Does that mean you overcame a serious illness while completing your program? 

Yes, I was sick for a couple of months during the program but doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. They kept on giving me antibiotics but nothing was working. I made it through to the end of the 5th semester and the last day of clinical. Finally, I got to my sickest point and I was put in the hospital. That’s when they found out I had Valley Fever. Doctors had been treating me with antibiotics, but Valley Fever is a fungal infection.  

That was the point when I felt like I had to decide on my RN program. I had already missed the maximum amount of days you are allowed to miss because of being sick and not knowing what was wrong with me. I couldn’t afford to go back right away and get sick again. At the same time, I didn’t want to leave the group that I’d grown so close to. I talked to the people who I was closest to within that group and they told me that I should do what’s best for my health. So, I ended up taking a semester off and trying to heal myself. I went back the next semester to finish my last semester of nursing school. 

 

Did you ever consider quitting and not going back? 

My husband was worried about that but I didn’t have any doubt in my mind that I would go back. My only question was, “am I going to be healthy enough to go back and finish school?” 

 

Do you have any Carrington instructors who you would like to acknowledge? 

All of my instructors were amazing, but there were three in particular who stood out. Dr. Wright was one who I already mentioned. Then there was Professor Macbeth. She was so smart! She knew her stuff backward and forwards and could really teach it. Another instructor who was pivotal in me making it was Professor Young. She challenged us and yet she was understanding when I got sick. They were all understanding–my hat goes off to my instructors for that. 

 

Would you mind telling me about your current work?  

First, let me say that one of the best things Carrington has going for them is Diana Jimenez. Diana is amazing. When my first nursing position wasn’t a good fit for me due to them not coming through on the training they promised, I reached out to Diana and she directed me towards Fresenius Kidney Care. There is a nursing shortage in dialysis and Fresenius has something called the Dialysis Nursing Residency Program where they start by training you for 12 weeks, which is amazing. The program lasts for an entire year and for that first year, you are not allowed to be alone in the building without another nurse present. I was happy about this because someday I’m going to be a really good nurse, but I’m just not there yet. I still need the training and support Fresenius provides me. I also enjoy what I learn even if dialysis isn’t what I’m going to do long-term.  

 

What do you enjoy the most about your work? 

The patients. I knew that I wanted to be in a setting where I could establish relationships with patients and get to know them. That is probably the thing I like the most about this job. I get to see the same patients all the time and I enjoy these patients. The hardest part is when patients die. We have lost quite a few since I have been there due to COVID and their comorbidities.  

 

How did Carrington prepare you for your career? 

I’ll admit, I was skeptical. I thought, “I won’t know if I have been adequately prepared by this program until I take the NCLEX exam!” And it didn’t sink in that I was adequately prepared until I took the NCLEX and passed. I think that the best thing that they did was not just have knowledgeable instructors, but also let us know that if we had any issues, they were there to help us. If you are failing or you are struggling, you don’t have to fail and you don’t have to struggle. They have the resources to help you–you just have to ask.  

 

Do you have any advice for people interested in going into your field? 

My advice to nursing students is to rely on each other. Nursing school is tough, so you’re going to need each other. Don’t be afraid to rely on your classmates. Don’t try to do it alone. Even if you are so smart that you don’t need other peoples’ help, then help other people. I know I wouldn’t have gone as far as I did without my classmates. They are one of the best groups of people I have ever been part of in my life.  

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