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A helping hand

Lisa Robbins

Editor's note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2016 commencement. See the rest here.

Nursing may seem like a 180-degree career change from the nuclear industry — but after pursuing a career as a quality-control specialist, ASU graduate Nate Beever reached a point where he wanted to retool. His aptitude tests showed STEM areas were a good fit, so Beever entered nursing school in his 40s.

It does run in the family — Beever's grandmother was a nurse, and when he earned his associate’s degree, he wore her nursing pin as an homage.

“I have never felt so much job satisfaction or reward than from being a nurse. It’s phenomenal,” said Beever.

Beever will deliver the convocation speech representing Arizona State University's online RN-BSN program this spring. His daughter and wife will be on hand to celebrate as he graduates summa cum laude. But he admits, “Probably my biggest regret is that my parents aren’t alive to see it.” 

Although Beever is earning his bachelor’s degree in nursing, he has been a practicing registered nurse for well over a decade. He has worked in a number of clinical environments, but he feels most fulfilled working as a nationally certified hospice nurse, providing care to patients and their families at the end of life. 

The health-care industry has placed a great emphasis on the value of bachelor’s-prepared nurses. The American Nurses Association and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing agree that BSN nurses are better prepared to meet the demands placed on today’s nurse. Like many of his peers, returning to college as a mature adult was both challenging and rewarding for Beever.

“I was especially appreciative of those faculty who recognized that I was not a student in my 20s. My perspective was different. They welcomed my input,“ Beever said.

With the benefit of years of life experience, Beever was able to interpret his education from a broad base of real-world experience. In his classes, there were students who weren’t yet practicing nurses and others who had been practicing for many years. Beever found there were great opportunities for younger students to learn from those who had years of experience. He welcomed opportunities to share his experience and learn from others through discussions and assignments.

“It is challenging to develop relationships over seven weeks, but my hat is off to faculty who strive to create collaborative environments where students learn from each other and faculty,” he said. 

When asked about his plans after graduation, Beever said, “Nurses have to be effective teachers because this is what we do with our patients. I work in hospice care, and so much of what I do relates to educating family members about how to care for their loved ones. We are now seeing younger nurses in hospice. My hope is that I can be a resource to those nurses who are learning about their own mortality.”

Beever believes education is a personal responsibility and that anything worth doing is worth doing well. But that personal responsibility doesn’t mean going it alone. He identified some important axioms that served him well and may help others:

• Take advantage of available scholarship opportunities and investigate these resources. Surprisingly, few students pursue scholarships, and the opportunity is lost. The benefit is worth the effort.

• Reach out to your faculty. They are real people, just like you, and they truly want you to succeed.

• There will likely be a mix of experience and backgrounds among your classmates. Challenge and engage each other to hone your soft skills of collaboration and discussion. Do not be afraid to express a different opinion. Often, the voice of dissent has been the impetus for innovation.

 

Written by Beth Smith; top photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now