SENIOR STORIES: Wilson connects to community through PBE at Nazareth
Courtney Wilson has known since she was a freshman that she wanted to go into the healthcare field. These past several months, her goal has grown more tangible while she gained experience caring for the elderly and learned lessons that only come through experience.
Learning to relate
Courtney has spent her senior year at Nelson County High working as a Medicaid nurse aide caring for the nuns in the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth’s Carrico Hall, an assisted living facility, as her work-based learning experience. She has taken health sciences classes at the Area Technology Center since she was a freshman and plans to attend Elizabethtown Community and Technical College’s nursing program after she graduates. But she says her time at Nazareth has taught her hands-on lessons outside of the classroom.
“I'm still learning something new every day. I'm learning how to care for people. I'm learning how to handle situations where I need to act fast.”
She is also learning interpersonal skills as a 17-year-old caring for the retired nuns who are two generations older than her.
“I am by far the youngest person there,” she said. “I've gotten so much better with my communication skills. I went in there nervous. I've learned a lot.”
Connecting to community
Before working at Nazareth, Courtney knew nothing about the religious order with ministries that span the globe and has called Bardstown home since 1812. She learned about the opportunity through her Health Sciences teacher, Brittany Newton, who has worked there for almost seven years.
It was Mrs. Newton who worked to open the opportunities for her health science students at Nazareth. She convinced the board of nuns to lower the eligible age for workers to 16, and Courtney was one of the first students she sent to Nazareth. She was invested in providing the best students she could for the role, because she also works alongside the students. Courtney is one of five students in Mrs. Newton’s program working at Nazareth.
“On the weekends, when I'm working, I don't want to work with just anybody,” Mrs. Newton said. “Courtney is absolutely excellent. I trust her. I will usually request her as my certified nursing assistant when I am working because when you’ve got a strong team, it makes the day easier, and in a health care situation you never know what one minute to the next will look like. And I just never have to worry if she’s there.”
Mrs. Newton said the residents and the administration love Courtney.
“The staff loves her. The Sisters love her. Pat Hicks, her boss and my boss, has said if she could just clone 10 Courtneys, everything would run smooth. She’s one of the best.”
Courtney said she has made a connection with Nazareth that will last beyond her profession-based experience through high school, and she plans after graduation to continue caring for the Sisters.
“It’s just a blessing to work there,” she said.
Some lessons are hard
Going into this year, Courtney wasn’t sure whether work-based learning would be the right experience for her. Her typical school day starts when she gets to work at 7 a.m. and works until 12:30, then finishes up her day at NCHS and taking dual-credit college courses through ECTC.
“Coming and going from work to school is honestly the best thing for me because I'm getting the hands on that I need for nursing, and I'm still getting my classes. I couldn't be more thankful.”
She has also experienced some aspects of her future career that can only be experienced in the workplace, like the death of someone she has cared for. While she is working with elders as a high-schooler, she wants to be a nurse in pediatric oncology, and the reality of both fields is that you will lose a patient.
She has had Sisters she cared for that have passed away.
“It’s tough, it’s hard, it really is,” she said. “But I think it’s really preparing me, especially if I want to go into pediatric oncology.”
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Courtney Wilson, a senior at Nelson County High School, has spent her profession-based experience working with retired Sisters of Charity of Nazareth.
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