Melissa Kepley has worked in healthcare since 1993 – first as a certified nursing assistant (CNA), then as a qualified medication aide (QMA) and tech, and finally as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) for the last 14 years.
“I intended to go back to school for quite a long time to get my RN,” she said. “However, I was a single mom for a long, long time, and we needed that steady paycheck. It didn’t seem to fit into the schedule or the budget for me to go back to school.”
A few years ago, newly remarried and with her children older, Kepley found that the time was right – for her and for the field of nursing in general. At the age of 43, she’s pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree at Chamberlain’s Indianapolis campus.
Being an older student has its advantages, she says. “I have a higher maturity level, and an understanding of doing a good job right from the get-go, taking it seriously, not slacking. I know how to relax and manage stress, and still be able to have fun, too.
Knowing how to balance it all is critical to Kepley. That’s because, in addition to going to school, she continues to work full-time as an LPN.
“I’m on a resource team, and we do self-scheduling,” she said. “I’m able to adjust my work schedule around my class schedule. That has been a tremendous help.”
And if working and going to school weren’t enough, she’s also active in student organizations, serving as the founding president of the Indianapolis campus Student Nurses Association.
Her motivation for being involved strikes a balance between giving back and knowing what she’ll get in return.
“I felt a sense that I have something to offer, especially being an older student,” she said. “I’ve had experiences from which I’ve learned some positive things. I’ve learned ways to make things happen more quickly, and I can offer guidance and leadership to be a role model for my classmates.”
“Also, having worked at the hospital, I’ve been able to participate in the interviewing process for new employees. I’ve witnessed how they really look at your involvement with student organizations and other similar groups. They feel that if you were involved as a student, then that will continue and you’ll be involved at the hospital level as well.”
After some 20 years in the field, Melissa looks forward to her future, convinced that she has made the right career choice.
“I always had the feeling that I was meant to do something big with my life, and I would say that nursing has fulfilled that. I feel that I make a difference every day and have an impact on someone’s life. They affect mine as well. That’s really neat.”