For the last 20 years, Amy Riddle has worked as an RN, spending the last 10 of those years in Southwest Florida, providing home health care to homebound patients, often in underserved rural or low-income areas.
Amy believes her drive to provide much-needed care to these communities stems from her memories of growing up in a small town where the closest pediatrician was an hour away. “That’s the worst feeling to have to be in a car when you’re sick as a child,” she recalls. Today, this feeling still informs her work, she says, explaining, “I know the importance of having primary care available for families and children.”
While time passed and Amy continued to work and volunteer in underserved areas, she began to feel compelled to do more. “I’ve seen a lot of people who are very poor and who need healthcare but aren’t able to receive it,” she explains. “I think that’s really what triggered my interest to go back to school to be a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP).”
Choosing South University
After researching a wide number of programs and schools, Amy decided to enroll in a master’s degree program at South University, Online Programs—the Master of Science in Nursing with a Specialization in Family Nurse Practitioner program—in November 2014.
“I liked the flexibility of it. I liked that there are no campus requirements for the online program and that I could focus on just one class at a time instead of five or six,” she explains, although noting that she was pleased about her choice to double up on classes for a period so that she could move through the program in less time.
In her first year, Amy has already learned valuable skills that will help her with achieving her goals. “The first year of courses at South University has prepared me to focus on prevention of illness and promotion of health, rather than just treating disease,” she says, adding that she’s really enjoying the structure of the online classes.
“I didn’t expect that I would feel like I had learned so much, especially from writing all of these papers, but you really do. And when you have to discuss your classroom work with other students, that really makes a big difference in learning too,” she says.
Continuing Education and Career Development
Earlier in 2015, Amy was one of four students awarded the Emerging Nurses of South University Scholarship from The Education Foundation. “It’s a great honor. I was really, really excited,” she says. “In fact, I’m still excited.”
Following her anticipated graduation next year, Amy plans to take the American Nurses Credentialing Center certification exam and to continue serving the communities that need her most, both in a private practice setting and through house calls to homebound patients.
“I love to empower my patients and caregivers through teaching and education,” she says.
Her advice for others in the nursing field? “Don’t do what I did. Don’t wait 20 years. It’s good to get experience after you graduate from nursing school, but if you want to go back to school, just go for it. Work your schedule around it. Make it happen.”
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