OFTC’s Callaway Continues Nursing Career in FNP Program

From Practical Nurse, to Registered Nurse, to OFTC Nursing Instructor, Kaitlin Callaway is nothing short of determined to find success in what she believes is her life calling, the nursing field. And her determination doesn’t stop with

Instructor Kaitlin Callaway with 2 students

OFTC Nurse Aide Instructor Kaitlin Callaway works with Kyla Tolliver (left) and Elisa Freeman (right) on the skills required to take a patient’s blood pressure.

teaching students. Callaway was recently accepted into the Family Nurse Practitioners (FNP) Program through Georgia Southern University and will begin classes online this fall.

A graduate of Washington County High School’s class of 2009, Callaway knew she wanted to pursue a career in nursing. “I’ve always been very close to my grandma and when I saw she was getting older, needed more assistance, and needed to go to the doctor more, I wanted to be there for her like she’s always been there for me,” Callaway shared. “I thought that going into nursing would be a good career choice and I would be able to help her when she needed me.”

A Call to Nursing

And that’s what she did. Callaway enrolled in Oconee Fall Line Technical College’s (OFTC) Practical Nursing Program (then Sandersville Technical College) and began pursuing a career in nursing.

“I chose OFTC because it was close to home,” Callaway said. “I didn’t want to go to a really big school where I would just be a face in the crowd.”

And the hands-on experiences she gained through OFTC’s career-minded approach is something that left a major impression on her during the program. “I had friends that were going through RN programs at the same time I was in the PN program, and we had double the experiences they did in the clinical setting,” Callaway shared. “We were completely hands on and jumping right into action when other schools made their students stand back and watch. You learn so much more from being hands on and getting the experiences personally.”

Upon graduation, Callaway was offered a job at Heritage Inn, a nursing home and rehabilitation center in Sandersville; while working, she went on to continue education through the Darton College Bridge Program and became a licensed Registered Nurse.

After working in field for several years, Callaway found herself applying for and landing a teaching position for her alma mater, teaching Jefferson County High School nurse aid classes through the college’s dual enrollment program called Move On When Ready (MOWR) at their Jefferson County Center. “I never saw myself being an instructor, but I’m glad that I did. I absolutely love the teaching aspect of nursing,” she said.

An Investment into Future Nurses

Teaching the fundamentals of the nursing field to high school students is something Callaway feels uniquely qualified

OFTC's Spring 2017 Jefferson County High School Nurse Aide students

OFTC’s Spring 2017 Jefferson County High School Nurse Aide students: L to R: Kyla Tolliver, Cameryn Johnson, Monecia Jones, Araceli Perez, Nakira Ingram, Me, Jada Lacy, Elisa Freeman, Shacayla McKennie, Shanterria Lockhart, Rebecca Ebner

for. “I was used to being the youngest nurse and learning from everyone else and their experiences, but now I enjoy teaching these young nurses how to take care of their future patients and learn the fundamental skills of nursing.”

“It’s been a big adjustment teaching students that are just starting out in the nursing field,” she added, “but it’s so much fun to watch how they first start out doing skills then see them gain in their confidence.”

Not only is Callaway able to give her students the knowledge and practical nursing skills they need, she’s able to use her personal experience with the program at OFTC to help guide the students and prepare them for their future. “So many people have the misconception that to be successful in nursing you have to be a RN. While you have a lot more opportunities as a RN, you get the real hands on experience going through the PN program.”

Reflecting on her experience in the program, Callaway is still amazed on the opportunities she and her fellow classmates were given: “The opportunities we had were unbelievable,” she said. “During clinical, anytime something really cool needed to be done, our instructors made sure that we got an opportunity to participate. We got to do things that other students weren’t allowed to do or didn’t want to do, and it was a great learning opportunity.”

Family Nurse Practitioner

While educating her MOWR students, Callaway realized her love for teaching nursing and decided she wanted to continue her education in the health care field. “I debated it for a while but I finally decided to just go for it,” she said.

She applied to the FNP program, was accepted and will begin classes in the fall. But she’s not finished teaching the high school MOWR students yet; “Since most the classwork is online or in the clinical setting, I’ll be able to continue teaching,” she shared.

“I want people to know not to count out a technical college or PN program when considering nursing,” Callaway added. “It might not sound as fancy as going straight into a BSN or ADN program, but the opportunities you get here are great.”

And that’s what Callaway wants her students to know. “Someone asked me before if I could go back and go straight into a BSN program if I would, but my honest answer is ‘no.’ I wouldn’t change anything. OFTC has a great nursing program and there are great instructors here that want their students to succeed.”