Hometown nursing – Mustang native celebrates career change
story and photo by Bobby Anderson, Staff Writer
Cheriti Sellers, RN, was sitting in her master’s class like she had so many times before when God began to whisper in her ear.
It was clear to the then-substance abuse counselor that God was leading her in a different direction. It was actually one she wanted to go in years before.
Now, four years into a rewarding nursing career, Sellers sees how the route she’s traveled is the one she’s supposed to have been on all along.
Four years ago Sellers left behind a career in alcohol and drug counseling and enrolled in Oklahoma City Community College’s traditional nursing program.
The loss of her father during high school solidified her pursuit to help others.
“I’ve wanted to go into nursing since I was in high school,” Sellers said. “My thing was I wanted to go cure the world. Life turned and I ended up in drug and alcohol working with adolescents.”
Family studies and gerontology work soon followed and before she knew it Sellers was headlong into a master’s program as a family therapist.
That’s when she heard the whisper which was as jarring as a scream.
“I decided I was just done. I was ready to move onto something different,” Sellers said. “Nursing, especially ER nursing, kind of brought both worlds together for me.”
Countless cuts to the state’s mental health budget pushed counseling providers to the brink trying to figure out how to deal with an ever-growing need with a shrinking budget.
Private sector work wasn’t much better.
“It was a lot of emotion,” said Sellers, who not only worked for an agency but also ran a 24-hour crisis line while holding down a private practice. “I was running a lot. There was a toll on my family. There was a toll on me.”
“I just said ‘I don’t think I wanted to do this for the rest of my life’ and I got up and walked out,” Sellers continued. “I just felt like God was telling me there was more for me to do somewhere else and I was done there. I felt like I had done what I needed to do in that field.”
That decision was never followed by regret. There were no second thoughts.
She became certified as a science teacher for grades five through nine and entered the classroom thinking this was her next move.
God whispered again.
On a Tuesday she was teaching. The following Tuesday she was an OCCC student and learning.
“It was pretty fast and I haven’t stopped since,” Sellers said.
Now, Sellers works at St. Anthony Healthplex Mustang.
It’s a job she truly adores for so many different reasons.
“I know that I make a difference, especially working here,” Sellers said. “I go to football games on Friday nights. I go to Wal-Mart. My roots are here in Mustang. I’ve lived here my entire life. My family was here since the Land Run. This is my town.”
“Whenever I go to those places and they say ‘You’re the nurse who took care of me’ they know me. They remember us and it’s nice.”
Sellers’ family – including a husband of 23 years this June and four kids – think mom’s job is the best. The three boys and one girl have non-stop schedules but they always know where to find mom – especially when she needs a Sonic iced tea in the afternoon.
“There’s a lot more family time,” Sellers said. “Whenever I was counseling my phone never stopped ringing. My life never stopped.”
The Mustang native admitted that she felt she couldn’t stop answering her phone in her previous life.
Calls came in at all hours. Often, they were of life and death importance.
Sometimes it was someone drunk in a Wal-Mart parking lot who desperately needed to make it to a crisis center or teenagers calling because they didn’t know where to go.
“I couldn’t not answer my phone,” Sellers said. “I was tired a lot. There was a stress. I felt like I was responsible for tons of life. Here, whenever my shift is done I know that life is in good hands and I can go home and clock out mentally and physically.”
“In my previous career I couldn’t do that.”