by Traci Chapman, Staff Writer
Callie Rinehart always knew she would go in one of two directions – nursing or teaching. With her career at The Children’s Center in Bethany, she has combined both.
With her next step, she takes her career, and her skills, to a new level, as one of a select few chosen to develop questions for the National Council of State Boards of Nursing’s National Council Licensure Examination.
Rinehart in early December did just that, as one of seven people originally named to the NCLEX knowledge, skills and ability panel. Meeting in Chicago for a three-day session, the panel was charged with developing questions to be included in the latest exam session. Rinehart was selected as an expert in pediatric nursing, officials said.
As a youth, Rinehart said she was intrigued both by education and medicine – she knew she wanted to help people, but how that path would unfold was unclear. Then, two things helped more clearly define her journey, one of the most personal nature, as her father suffered from a serious illness.
“I helped with my dad’s home health care, and I learned a lot,” Rinehart said. “In my senior year of high school, I got the opportunity to go to local hospitals, tour professions – and it was all I needed to know.”
That program was Yukon High School’s Medical Professions Academy, a series of courses that allow students to develop skills like first aid and sports medicine, injury prevention, medical terminology, research, problem solving and findings – all while earning college credit. Rinehart’s participation in the program was pivotal, she said; after her 2007 graduation from YHS, she went on to Redlands Community College’s nursing school, where she earned an associate’s degree.
Rinehart next earned her BSN at Southwest Oklahoma State University; she is currently working on her master’s degree at University of Missouri, she said.
As her path itself seemed to fall in place, so too did the answer to where she would begin her nursing career. Nine years later, Rinehart said she can’t imagine a better place, not only because of the people the facility treats and their families, but also those dedicated to their care.
“I started at The Children’s Center as a nursing assistant, as an LPN, and I just never wanted to go anywhere else – this is where my heart is,” Rinehart said. “It was everything I could have asked for.”
The Children’s Center is a private rehabilitation hospital, offering respiratory care, special education, rehabilitative therapies and much more. While some children come to the center for short-term rehabilitation after a spinal cord or brain injury and many more take advantage of the facility’s outpatient center, several are complex care patients who can remain at the Bethany center for months or even years.
In operation since 1898, the facility has a $40 million annual operating budget and employees 650 total staff.
While the Bethany facility offered Rinehart the nursing home she was looking for, it also represented an opportunity for her to work in the field she once thought might be her destiny – teaching.
Rinehart serves as The Children’s Center nurse educator, charged with training both newly hired staff, as well as continuing education for the facility’s close to 300 nurses.
“I have about 20 students five days a week, and I make sure nurses complete the necessary certifications and the required programs,” she said. “It’s really gratifying because I can oversee and make sure the nurses get what they need and have the chance to see how nurses’ careers advance.”
Her education efforts and advocacy move beyond The Children’s Center, however. She sits on several nursing advisory committees, meeting annually to discuss what’s happening in area nursing programs, industry trends and the like.
“I think the reason I was selected was because I also sit on Oklahoma City advisory committees,” she said.
As Rinehart’s experience expands, so too does the facility she loves. Just recently, The Children’s Center completed a massive project, adding 40 beds and made possible, in part, by an employee capital campaign committee-driven effort that raised $2 million to make the expansion a reality. Rinehart was an integral part of that committee and its efforts, officials said.
It was a something not truly work for a nurse and educator who called The Children’s Center her “forever home,” someone dedicated to changing not only patients lives, but also those who share her commitment to those patients.
“It’s so gratifying to know what we do to help our kids, to know we make a difference in their lives every day – and they make a difference in my life too every day,” Rinehart said. “I do love The Children’s Center and everything to do with it.”