‘Making a Difference One Person at a Time’: Finding a New Path in Life Through PN Program

Published: October 20, 2022

Working as a nurse runs in the family for College of Western Idaho (CWI) Practical Nursing (PN) program student, Tiffany Smith. Her mother, birth mother, biological grandmother, and biological aunt are all nurses.

However, following in her family’s footsteps and becoming a third-generation nurse wasn’t the path Smith originally intended for herself.

Smith obtained her Associate Degree in Advertising Art from the Southwest University of Visual Arts and started working as a graphic designer. A few years later she had children, and became a stay-at-home mother. In 2016, she went back to work as a graphic designer in the Treasure Valley.

That was up until she was laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

“There was a lack of events,” Smith said. “It was my third time being laid off as a graphic designer and I decided I was done. I love art, but I wanted something that would insure employability. I needed a career that would allow me to take care of myself.”

Always having some connection and interest in health and healing, she decided to return to school, work on her prerequisites to get into CWI’s PN program, and one day become a nurse.

“A very loud thought would sneak up on me for years, ‘I don't want you to waste your time on this earth.’ Simply put, I felt called,” Smith said. “I want to be there to hold the hand of the hurting and I want to be able to support myself while doing it. At the end I want to feel I lived a life well spent.”

Initially, it was CWI’s affordability that brought Smith to the campus. However, since being accepted and starting the College’s PN program, Smith is even happier with the decision she has made.

While Smith calls it a “demanding program,” she realizes how prepared CWI’s PN students walk out of the program upon graduating, take the NCLEX-PN (National Council Licensure Examination), and begin work in healthcare facilities as a Practical Nurse. From hands-on lab experience to phenomenal instructors with a wealth of knowledge and connections around the Treasure Valley, Smith has nothing but praises for the College’s program.

“The teachers are great. Not only are they dedicated to preparing us for the NCLEX and real life afterwards, but they also care about the students personally,” Smith said.  I broke my leg at the beginning of the program, and I thought for sure I was done. While paramedics were loading me into an ambulance at the school, PN Instructor, Melanie Gier, assured me I would be able to finish. PN Instructor, Dr. Joan Weddington, even took pictures of my car I had crashed two days before to send to my insurance.”

Once Smith graduates from the program she plans to take the NCLEX and begin her career as a Practical Nurse. She believes she will continue her education and study to become a Registered Nurse (RN), like her mother and birth mother before her.

“Life is a winding road, and we never know where it's going to take us, but one thing I do know is the options are unlimited in healthcare,” Smith said. “Because of CWI I have a new start to a career with a lot of growth potential where I can make a difference one person at a time.”

Applications for CWI’s PN program are open now through Oct. 28, 2022.

The program requires a supplemental application process in addition to applying for admission to CWI.  Details on the application process and program requirements are available on the Practical Nursing program page.

For questions about applying to the Practical Nursing program, contact your Student Success Advisor or the Practical Nursing program.

Learn more about the Practical Nursing program and how to apply

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