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Becoming a nurse
Shelly Nicholson joins some of the first to graduate GHC’s new bachelor’s program

ghc nurseShelly Nicholson had three goals before she turned 50. “I wanted to finish my bachelor’s in nursing, I wanted to be debt-free, and I wanted to lose 20 pounds,” she said. She successfully completed two of those goals in December with help from Georgia Highlands College. She laughed and said, “It was not so good on the weight loss thing. I haven’t quite done that one yet.”
The others, however, Shelly noted were very significant and she was proud to have accomplished them. Shelly joined 12 other students in December in completing GHC’s Bachelor of Science in nursing A college education wasn’t always the plan, though. Shelly said that after she graduated high school she went to tech school for a while and then started working and having kids. It wasn’t until her oldest son was about to graduate from high school himself that Shelly saw her opportunity to go back. “The company I worked for offered tuition reimbursement,” she said. “That’s when I found out they would pay for my son, and they would pay for me. It took every obstacle I had about going to college out of my way. I thought, ‘Now, I have no excuses.’”
Shelly admitted it wasn’t easy making that transition. “I liked my job and I made good money where I worked,” she said, “But I just had this longing to have a college education. I had a bunch of friends who were nurses. I was always in awe of their stories and how they cared for people. They were kind of my inspiration.” Shelly said that even though she was hesitant about working her way into a nursing program, her jitters all went away after her first class: anatomy and physiology.
“I thought, ‘Wow, I’m hooked. I’ve got to go into something in the health field,’” she said. While she was in nursing school working on her associate, Shelly said all the instructors encouraged her to continue on to get her bachelor’s. Shelly said she put it on hold, however, and went on to work instead. After saving some money to cover the bachelor’s portion of her studies, she returned to GHC. She said that GHC’s affordable price coupled with the caliber of its program were the main reasons she returned.
“GHC’s nursing program is just fantastic,” she said. “I tell people you get so much bang for your buck here.” Shelly now works as a floor nurse at Redmond Regional Hospital in Rome. “I work with cardiothoracic and vascular patients. I take care of very complex cases. We basically do everything in the chest,” she said. And although it’s one of the more stressful areas to work in the hospital, Shelly said she enjoys the process of seeing her patients get better.
“When they come in, they’ve got issues and they’re scared and they do this to improve their life. And then they go to surgery and come back hurting, pale, and really sick,” she said. “But within two to three days, they’re walking. They go home. They get better. What better job can you have?”
Shelly’s fellow December nursing graduates are also now currently working throughout Northwest Georgia. Those graduates and their current work location are:

Floyd Medical Center
Jessica Williams
April Givens
Cartersville Medical Center
Julie Shrewbury
Grady Memorial Hospital
Roselyne Ferdinand
Northside Hospital Cherokee
Rory Marquardt
Kristyn Steffers
Peachford Hospital Atlanta
Robert Rodgers
Piedmont Healthcare Henry
Misty McClelland
Redmond Regional Medical Center
Rachel Mansfield
WellStar Health System
Dana Stephens
Steve Watkins
Ebecca Schultz