From Bulldog to School Nurse: Keeping the Next Generation Safe
“If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.”
-Jimmy Dugan in A League of Their Own
Ali Millican, a 2022 nursing graduate, can relate. Ali always loved science growing up, and when she was in high school, she signed up for a health occupations class. She loved it, and it introduced her to a multitude of career paths within the medical field. Her teacher, a former nurse, felt driven to teach the younger generations about the medical field and what it has to offer.
“I felt very guided by her, and I decided after her class that nursing was the field I wanted to pursue. I enjoy being hands on with the patients, as well as educating them,” stated Millican. “I feel this is my way of using the hands that God provided me with to do good in the world.”
Millican began her freshman year at TWU in 2018; Ali was a traditional BSN student, so she completed her first two years at the Athens campus before transitioning to the Knoxville instructional site. Unfortunately for Ali and many others, 2020 was the year she was set to make that transition to Knoxville to focus on her nursing curriculum. Ali was able to complete one semester of in-person learning prior to COVID-19 sending many students back home. For 2021, her classes went hybrid, meaning Millican had both online and in-person classes. Ali persevered through a challenging season, completing an already challenging program in a constantly-changing academic environment.
“I feel that I was still able to get all the material I needed to be successful with passing my NCLEX and starting my career as a new grad nurse,” said Millican. “I know that our professors worked extra hard to get the information across to help us be successful.”
Ali believed that COVID-19 showed issues within the medical system but also shed light on how important nurses are. Equally as important as nurses themselves, are the professors educating them. Two of Ali’s professors in Knoxville, Dr. Smith and Ms. Howard, positively impacted and prepared Ali for her career after Wesleyan.
“Dr. Smith taught me to always be me and to go wherever my heart desires in life. She was always a person I could go to with whatever problems I had in life not even related to nursing,” stated Millican. “Ms. Howard is the most honest and kindhearted person that I have met to this day. She brings her amazing personality with her everywhere and can always put a smile on your face.”
Since TWU is a smaller school than most state colleges and universities, it allows students to get the hands-on experience they need. Because of this, Ali was able to make these heartwarming connections and relationships with her professors and classmates.
“I learned so much during my time and met some of the best people. Going to a smaller program helped me to get more hands-on training for nursing, and having the reputation that TWU does in the medical field, it also helped with networking,” said the 2022 graduate.
Before Ali graduated, she partook in a preceptorship; she was able to work hands-on with a nurse during her last semester. This was very helpful for Millican, who was about to transition from student to graduate, practicing nursing on her own. Millican graduated and pursued the field of emergency medicine. She accepted a job at CHI Memorial in Chattanooga where she worked in the emergency room. After learning more skills, Millican took her newfound knowledge and transferred into the school system. Ali is using her triage skills she learned in her ER experiences at CHI Memorial to keep the kids in school safe.
Ali is pursuing her goal to work in pediatrics and wants to go back to school.
“My end goal in nursing would be trying to achieve my Nurse Practitioner license, but currently, I am very happy with what I am doing now,” said Millican. “I am just going to take it day by day to see how it all works out.”