Sometimes life imitates school. While course content may be emphasized in college and university marketing, for Forks resident Lucritia Stansbury, the practical life skills gained while going through the ups and downs of earning her degree, proved just as valuable.
Lucritia knew she wanted to work in a caregiving role from the time she was little girl.
“Ever since I was maybe 5 or 6, I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to help people,” she said. Growing up, her mother was an in-home caregiver, and Lucritia worked in childcare and caregiving fields throughout her life. When work took her boyfriend, now husband, from Olympia to Forks, Lucritia decided to follow him. She still had the desire to pursue her dream, but where to start in the small, remote town? She began by enrolling in CNA classes at Forks Hospital. Though a CNA license is not required for admission to the nursing program, it does provide “added points” on student applications.
Once she completed the CNA courses, she knew Peninsula College was the right choice when she decided to pursue her nursing degree. Peninsula College at Forks offered nursing classes conveniently close to home.
“Deborah Scannell really helped me map out my prerequisites and nursing school plan, so I didn’t have to travel to Port Angeles very often.” Glynda Schadd offered academic tutoring help in the learning center. Through online and video classes she was able to stay in town, saving on fuel and time; traveling to the main campus in Port Angeles only when necessary.
She felt that the nursing program instructors helped her prepare for nursing itself by expecting many different things from her as a student. Through her coursework she became more flexible, and learned to adapt and change as necessary. In her Nursing 100 course, for example, students were asked to schedule their daily routine including dedicated time for studying.
“It taught me to be flexible and always have a plan A, B and C. Things happen. A kid gets sick, and you still have to be dependable; you have to be there.”
Her journey was not without challenges. She gave birth to her son in December 2011 when she was just starting her prerequisites. The state helped with childcare, but she still had to work 20 hours per week in addition to going to school as part of the arrangement with the state. She was able to work Friday and Saturday night shifts and study during the week. Lucritia hit another bump when her father became ill, and she had to take time off from the program to care for him.
In spite of obstacles, Lucritia achieved her lifelong dream by earning a nursing degree at Peninsula College in June of 2013, and was hired as a nurse at Forks Community Hospital the same year. Working in a small, rural hospital allows her to see something new every day. She may work in the ER one day and be in surgery the next. “I don’t want to move to a big city, I love doing something different every day,” she said.
As part of the surgical department, she works two, 12-hour night shifts and two day shifts per week, and is on call every other weekend for surgery. A surgery day can vary due to a variety of specialists who come to Forks to perform procedures. Lucritia says her favorite shifts involve orthopedic work. Her team may do total hip and knee replacements, carpel tunnel repairs, rotator cuffs fixes and more. As a scrub nurse, she is involved in preparing the surgery room and instruments, helping the surgeon dress and perform the surgery, and post- op clean up. She also processes instruments by sterilizing and wrapping them.
In March, Lucritia spoke at the new Forks campus about her journey to becoming a nurse for Career Exploration Day.
“Life is about being dependable, flexible and hardworking. Every day is a new day, and you have to be prepared,” she said.