From combat to clinical care: a nursing degree decades in the making

Shane Ley

For Shane Ley, a senior at Columbia College of Nursing, the road to achieving a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree was far from traditional. Out of high school, he spent two years as a biology major at a Wisconsin public university in hopes of teaching high school biology and coaching baseball. He realized he was not taking college seriously, and with loans mounting, he decided to enlist in the U.S. Army to acquire discipline and help pay for college. Shane knew he wanted to get into the medical field, so he became a certified nursing assistant while stationed in Fort Hood, Texas. After his first four years in the military, he re-enlisted in the Army and hoped to be assigned to a role in the medical field, but positions were not available at the time.

After almost eight years in the Army, Shane was discharged from the military and started a civilian job as a welder. However, the desire to be in the medical field lingered, so he became a volunteer Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) for a local ambulance service, which he continued for 12 years. In 2003, he joined the Army full-time again and was sent to Iraq in 2005.  He used his EMT knowledge to help medics in Iraq and stateside, and was inspired to take classes for the last five years in his military career to prepare himself for completing a BSN degree.

After retiring from the military in February 2016, after 26 years of service, he enrolled full-time at Columbia College of Nursing in the BSN program. In jest, Shane noted, “when I started in August, I was the oldest student in my class, even though I won’t tell my classmates my real age.” After holding on to his dream for many years, the Wisconsin Grant helped make his dream a reality. Due to the extended timeline of his educational pursuits, Shane’s VA education benefits ended prior to graduation. The Wisconsin Grant helped him meet the financial demands to complete his journey. Shane plans to graduate in May 2018, and after working as a Registered Nurse for a few years, may continue his education and pursue a Master in Nursing degree.

“I chose nursing as a profession because the complexity of the human body in how it works, recovers, and adapts has always interested me. The path I took towards a career in nursing may not have been traditional, but with hard work, dedication, and the support of my family, I’ve been able to fulfill a goal in returning to school to obtain my BSN.”

 

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