Posted Date: 03/07/2023
Kristin Zumwalt graduated from the Practical Nursing program at Kiamichi Tech – Poteau in June 2022. Now, she works as a Licensed Practical Nurse at Mercy Fort Smith, in the intensive care unit, and as a PRN nurse at Eastern Oklahoma Medical Center in Poteau, in the medical surgical unit or the emergency room. Kristin says that completing her training at Kiamichi Tech helped her gain the confidence to be successful in the nursing field.
What led you to a career in nursing?
My husband Chris and I have been married for almost 17 years and have three beautiful children, and they have always been my biggest supporters! I was a stay-at-home mom and helped my husband run his business, but I was not new to healthcare. I had worked as a CNA in the past and had spent my fair share of time in a hospital and caring for loved ones in a home health setting.
I chose my family first when our first child came along, putting school on hold until recently, when our youngest child began kindergarten. Through my own life experiences, caring for my family and meeting several graduates of the Kiamichi Tech Practical Nursing program, I felt that God was leading me in the direction I needed to go. I am also proud to say that the former graduates are now close friends and mentors of mine.
What skills have you developed at Kiamichi Tech that have helped you succeed?
I would have to give Kiamichi Tech all the credit for the nursing skills I have developed. The program was extremely thorough and prepared us for everything from passing medications to IV therapy and phlebotomy skills. Our instructors put forth the effort and time to ensure we were prepared and confident when it came to our clinical experiences. Their support pushed me and my classmates to improve.
How has Kiamichi Tech helped prepare you for your career?
My long-term career goal has been to earn my Registered Nursing (RN) licensure, however based on the experience I have gained working in the ICU, I am also interested in pursuing a career in critical care as an intensivist.
The PN program has taught me the importance of being assertive and having confidence in the nursing field. My instructors were instrumental in my confidence as a nurse, as they taught the importance of having a backbone in my field. It was more than acting and speaking confidently, it was also the importance and timing of asking questions and not letting anything get in the way of providing excellent patient care.
There are a lot of rules in this program that may seem strict at first. However, having those rules only encouraged me to hold myself to a higher standard and helped me learn so much about responsibility and time management, which are both critical in nursing.
What have you enjoyed most about your experience at Kiamichi Tech?
I truly enjoyed developing my skills and the quality of clinical hours in the program. I graduated being more capable and confident in my skill set than some peers feel that came from other programs.
Beyond my training, I also found the relationships I made with my instructors and classmates to be invaluable. I was beyond blessed with a close cohort of classmates who had a lot of respect for each other and supported each other through the program. A true testament to the program would be that I would feel an overwhelming sense of calm if I knew that one of my classmates was caring for a loved one.
My entire experience at Kiamichi Tech exceeded my expectations. Yes, it was hard, challenging and stressful, but then again, so is the profession of nursing. I truly love Kiamichi Tech - they helped me take my potential and find my purpose. I have an excellent foundation to continue building my nursing career thanks to Kiamichi Tech.