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Alice Sorrell-Thompson currently serves as the director of nursing for Legacy Education LLC.
Alice joins our episode with three Integrity College students to discuss why someone might consider a career in vocational nursing. They share why they chose to attend Integrity College to pursue this career path, what attracted them to vocational nursing, and their motivating factors for continuing their education.
Lee Doubleday: Hello and welcome to our fourth and final episode of our nursing career series on Imagine America Radio, where we focus specifically on nursing careers. Joining us today is Alice Sorrell-Thompson, the nursing program director for Legacy Education, which covers High Desert Medical College in Bakersfield, Lancaster, and Temecula, California, as well as Central Coast College in Salinas, California, and Integrity College in Pasadena, California. And today we’d like to discuss why someone should go to school to become a vocational nurse. Then, as I understand it, we actually have some students on this podcast as well, and we’re very excited to have them chime in and tell us—and tell our listeners—why they chose to go to school to become a vocational nurse as well. So, an exciting episode of nursing on our hands for today. As a leading provider of education in vocational nursing, we couldn’t think of anybody better to call than Alice with Legacy Education. So why don’t we start off—Alice, if you can just briefly explain what a vocational nurse is and what they do on a daily basis, I think that would really help our listeners.
Alice Sorrell-Thompson: Okay, well, thank you so much for having us today. What is a vocational nurse? What is a nurse in general? Nurses are the glue that hold together patients’ health care journeys. They are the foundation for patient care. That’s why you have hospitals. Did you know that’s why you have hospitals? You go into the hospital because of nursing care, honestly. Vocational nursing can practice in a lot of different settings. All nursing is very, very diverse—anywhere from long-term care facilities to large community clinics, even in acute care facilities. And really the crux of the whole aspect of nursing care is to provide monitoring for your patient’s condition and provide that patient with safety and comfort—advocating, of course, for consistent quality of care. Nurses, when they’re registered nurses or licensed vocational nurses, they’re the quarterback on the team for health care.
Lee: I like that analogy. I’m an analogy nerd, so I really enjoy a good analogy. And I think you’re right. It definitely—it’s someone who is almost like a translator between the patient and the medical care that they’re getting. And the other nurses have to be good at communicating to either other nurses or doctors and advocating on behalf of that patient. So that’s great. So now that we have a better understanding of what a vocational nurse does, can you briefly explain the career opportunity for nursing, and what is the Bureau of Labor Statistics saying as far as the demand for nurses—maybe nationally and then maybe more specifically in California?
Alice: We do know that nursing, in general, is going to experience a 9- to 10-percent increase between 2020 and 2030. And that number probably now has to be reconfigured because of COVID. So, there is significant opportunity for all levels of nursing professionals to engage with developing health care models in our state. I had the pleasure of working with LA County Fire and Corps as it relates to that—mass vaccination sites throughout California. And so I was one of the nurses that opened Dodger Stadium.
Lee: Oh wow, cool.
Alice: I was one of the nurses that closed Dodger Stadium too, and provided COVID vaccinations throughout LA County and actually had been in Northern California. So, there were a lot of LVNs, RNs, nurse practitioners all on that line. So, we’re really looking at a surge in the need for health care providers.
Lee: Yeah. And I totally understand what you’re saying about—and that seems to be a common theme, which is that—due to COVID-19—there’s a lot more—we’re using the word opportunity—for individuals to enter the field because there is such a demand. And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we’re looking at 60,000 openings for licensed practical nurses across the country, and another 88,200 vocational nurses by the year 2028 in California alone. So, I mean, the demand is definitely, definitely there. And I knew vocational nursing was in high demand nationally, but it’s really great to see the demand in California where your campuses are located as well. Okay. Well, on today’s episode, we want to talk about why someone would consider going to school to become a nurse. We just discussed one big reason, which is the country needs nurses. But from your experience, Alice, what is another reason why someone chooses to enter this field?
Alice: This field is a calling. It is more than a job. This field changes people’s lives. In fact, one of our founding nurses here at Integrity would say, “Nurses can change the world!” And in 2020, I think we saw that.
Lee: Yeah, definitely.
Alice: So, if you want to be an agent of change, you want to be on the ground floor of making something right and good for people that may not have a voice that you do—nursing’s your call.
Lee: I like that. I like what your founding member there at Integrity said too. That’s really cool. All right. Now, I want to turn it over to the students. Let’s hear from some of the students. I want to talk to Isaura. Can you explain, in your own words, maybe a reason or two why you decided to enter a vocational nursing program?
Isaura Pizzaro: So, I’m actually currently a CNA, so I’m kind of already in the field. I found that after COVID, I felt that I really needed to go back to further my education. And I thought that, “Okay, since I’m already a CNA, let’s take it to the next step,” which would be an LVN. I felt that CNAs are just so limited to the help we can give, even if we wanted to. So, after COVID, I saw my facility struggling for LVNs, for RNs. So, I kind of figured I know that I want to further—so that’s why I decided to go back to school.
Lee: Wow, awesome. That’s so cool to hear. And good for you for going back to school when you saw an opportunity and taking advantage of it. I love it. All right. Anthony, let’s talk to you about why you decided to start this program.
Anthony Okwudi: For me, mine is very ambiguous. I wanted to do something that encompasses selflessness. I wanted to do something in my career of choice that is challenging, interesting, and makes a difference in people’s lives daily. I just wanted to prove a point to myself that I can be very compassionate, caring, and having all the necessary training and education to empower the person that’s incapacitated to do the right thing. So that was the reason I ventured into it. And I am happy. I’m one—and among those who are giving care and security to those that actually need them.
Lee: I think what you just said is very admirable. And I would say it’s probably common along the lines of other nurses in your field, is that it does take compassion and selflessness to be a nurse. And you answering that calling is exactly what this country needs right now. And, so, we really appreciate what you’re doing.
Anthony: Thank you so much.
Lee: All right. Isabel, I would like to hear from you as to why you decided to enter this field.
Isabel Donato: For me, the reason I chose to further my education was because I felt as if I could not do as much as I wanted for my patients as a medical assistant. I currently work at a cancer center, and I want to be able to take care of my patients from beginning to end and to be part of their journey as a whole. In furthering my education, I am also setting a tone and opening doors for my boys. So, you can go above and beyond—and that it can be done no matter your age—to follow your passion and know that in doing so, you conquer true satisfaction and happiness in helping and being of service to others in need.
Lee: Wow. Yeah. I mean, did we save the best for last? That was a great reason why. And that’s another thing that we didn’t talk about on this show was that you want to be a role model for your children. And like I was saying, with Anthony and Isaura, what more admirable career to get into than nursing? And your experience at the cancer center—I got to believe you have incredible stories. And I’m sure you would create deep relationships with those individuals. And what a rewarding career. I just really appreciate everything that you guys are doing and, of course, what Integrity College is doing to train these individuals that this country so desperately needs. And it’s so nice to hear from you all. And I feel touched by your stories. And even though you just laid out three to four sentences, you could feel it. Wow, that’s great. And thank you guys for joining us on today’s podcast episode.
I want to just kind of recap for our listeners. You heard it straight from one of the leading providers in nursing and training, their facility—just to touch on a few things, it seems a common theme among nurses is they’re compassionate and selfless people. And in these cases, students are looking to further their education because of maybe they’re already in the field but want to do something more for their patients, that they needed to go back and get some additional training. And I think this is fantastic. And it looks like you guys are on the right track to furthering your education and doing everything that you want to do. And Alice, one quick thing. Do you want to tell the listeners, if they’re listening to the podcast, where they should go to learn more about Integrity College—website, that kind of thing?
Alice: Yeah. You can certainly go to www.ich.edu.
Lee: Okay. Pretty easy URL there. If you’d like more information on Integrity College and these programs, please visit them at ich.edu. I couldn’t thank you guys enough for being on the call today and joining us on this podcast. And I’m excited to share your stories with our listeners.
Alice: Thank you very much for having us.
Anthony: Thank you so much.
Isabel: Thank you.