by Traci Chapman, Staff Writer
Counting the months to graduation and in the wake of an opportunity that opened her eyes to a whole new world of nursing, Theresa Ramsey is looking forward to her next steps – whatever they might be.
“My dad got me interested in nursing in high school – I was interested in anatomy and then thinking about what to do for a career,” Ramsey said. “I definitely knew I wanted to do something rewarding and to help other people – and every step has shown me something new and different.”
A Yukon High School graduate, Ramsey earned her LPN at Canadian Valley Technology Center. It was an experience she said she would never forget.
“I think a lot of people don’t think of Canadian Valley as a place to get an LPN, but it was a great school, and it was good preparation for what I wanted to do,” Ramsey said. “Now, I just want to keep going.”
To do that, she enrolled in University of Central Oklahoma’s nursing school, working toward her bachelor’s of science in nursing. She plans to graduate next May.
“I’m really excited about it – it’s a lot of work, of course, when you’re trying to work a little and have a baby at home, but it’s just what I love, so it’s exciting,” Ramsey said.
Ramsey’s entire work has been in geriatric care – and at one facility, Yukon’s Spanish Cove. Now 26, she started at Spanish Cove as a CNA and continued there after receiving her LPN; she said although she works part-time, she loves working as a charge nurse at the facility, particularly because of the residents she treats.
“I love the residents the most – there are good days and bad days just as with any job,” Ramsey said. “Nursing is stressful, but the residents I work with can always make me laugh, they can be the sweetest and funniest people.”
“They also are vulnerable people who need caring people to look after them and help them, which is very important to me,” she said. “My residents have the best stories and backgrounds to share.”
Those residents – and their stories – are more special in her position because she gets the chance to get to know them, Ramsey said. As the only nurse in her section of Spanish Cove’s long-term care unit, many residents spend a significant time under Ramsey’s care, as well as the CNA and CMA who work alongside her.
“Working in long-term care, I get to know the people I care for and their family and you get attached and become a big family,” she said.
Spanish Cove is a huge, multi-dimensional facility in Yukon, which features not only long-term care, but also assisted and independent living areas. Two long-term care units accommodate 20 to 25 residents, Ramsey said. But, that is all about to change.
In October, Spanish Cove celebrated its 43rd birthday with a groundbreaking for a two-phase expansion. The first is slated to begin construction in November and will include nine assisted living and 14 assisted living memory care apartments and 20 skilled nursing care units, encompassed in two-story additions that will feature basement shelters. The roughly $20 million first phase should be finished sometime in 2019, administrators said; phase two should add 50 new independent living residences to the Yukon facility.
“Everyone is really excited about the expansion and what it means for the residents and how many people we will be able to care for,” Ramsey said.
While Ramsey said she always knew she wanted to be a nurse and her time in the profession has always been served in geriatric care – and at the same facility – she said she wasn’t sure where her next professional road would lead her.
Ramsey said she thought that road, initially when she began her studies at UCO, would be as a labor and delivery RN – but, some experiences since then pointed her in other possible directions, she said. One of those was a recent internship with the Oklahoma Medical Reserve Corps.
“It was an amazing experience, a chance to see so many different things than what I’ve experienced in my career – or even what I thought I wanted to do,” Ramsey said. “I really just loved being a part of it.”
OKMRC is a volunteer unit made up of nurses, doctors and other health professionals, as well as other, ancillary personnel, that provide assistance during emergencies and other times help might be needed. That assistance might range from providing medical assistance during an Oklahoma City marathon to being on scene after a tornado or other disaster.
About 1,200 – one quarter – of all OKMRC volunteers are nurses, administrators said. Those numbers represent not only those who have learned about the program on their own, but also inductees who became involved as the result of a partnership OKMRC and Oklahoma Nurses Association that coordinates a registry of nurse volunteers available at a time of disaster.
That collaboration made the OKMRC externship – which Ramsey took advantage of – possible. First launched in 2015 at University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center Fran and Earl Ziegler College of Nursing, the program now includes students like Ramsey attending not only University of Central Oklahoma, but also Southwestern Oklahoma State University and Northwestern Oklahoma State University.
In 2017, Ramsey was one of a record 23 students who took part in the program, administrators said.
“It really gave me a whole new outlook into what I could do once I graduate,” she said. “I feel like there are so many changes going on in my life – I married my high school sweetheart two years ago, and we had our baby boy Daniel in March this year.”
“School is hard and being a nurse is hard, but it is great to come home to him every day – and looking forward to a future with even more opportunities is a great thing,” Ramsey said. “I love learning, but I am ready to not be in school – and I’m excited about what happens next.”
Note from the Owner/Editor (Steve Eldridge): Theresa Ramsey is my daughter and that’s my little buddy Daniel. Love them both – Tyler too!