Christian Flenniken, a native of Edmond, Oklahoma, will graduate this month with an associate degree in nursing from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Following graduation, she will begin her nursing career at Baptist Health and continue her education in the BSN program at UA Little Rock.
Q. Why do you want to become a nurse?
Nursing is a second career for me. I originally got my English degree and planned on teaching college courses. However, I didn’t have as much of a sense of purpose in that field. I have always had a drive towards service, and I found my passion in nursing. It’s challenging, continuously improving, and gives you never-ending opportunities to exercise empathy and care-taking.
Q. Why did you choose UA Little Rock?
I chose UA Little Rock after researching several of the nursing schools here. This is the only school that offers the option to get your RN and begin practice while continuing on and getting your BSN. I really wanted to get out into the workplace as soon as I could, but I also knew that I wanted to continue my education. I think it’s the most practical option for obtaining your degree.
Q. How is UA Little Rock helping you prepare for your future career?
UA Little Rock’s Nursing Program has been instrumental in preparing me for my career. We have had countless hours of hands-on experience in clinicals and sim labs that have given me the confidence to perform well in the hospital setting. I think a lack of self is a big barrier to being a good nurse in the beginning.
In a lot of situations, there’s no room to be squeamish, to be scared. You can’t hesitate. In those moments, I just always remember Mrs. Fletcher telling us in our first Fundamentals of Nursing class to “own your three feet,” as in, “you made it here, and you deserve to be here, so stop second-guessing yourself.” That’s really stuck with me, and I think that will follow me into the hospital setting.
Q. What are your plans for after graduation?
After graduation, I’ve accepted a position working in the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit at Baptist Health Little Rock, where I currently work as a patient care tech. I’ll be working there while I earn my bachelor’s degree in nursing. I eventually plan to continue my education past the BSN program, but I’m planning on working for a while and getting my feet under me before I jump back into school.
Q. What is the most interesting thing that has happened to you as a nursing student at UA Little Rock?
I’ve seen some really wild stuff during my time in nursing school. I’ve seen a cardiothoracic surgeon saw through a man’s sternum for a coronary artery bypass graft. I’ve seen babies being born, broken bones, open wounds, machines breathing for people…the list goes on. But, I think the most interesting thing I’ve seen is how the human body is able to recover from some of the wildest injuries or infections. It’s pretty mind-blowing in a lot of ways.
Q. Who is your mentor in the nursing program?
I would say my mentor throughout the program has been Ms. Joanna Rostad-Hall. Not only does she give incredible lectures on cardiac rhythm strips, but she’s been an incredible support for me, especially during all the stress of Covid-19. She’s an incredible educator and student advocate.
Q. What extracurricular activities at UA Little Rock or community organizations are you involved in?
I work often, so my only extracurricular has been Alpha Delta Nu, the nursing honor society. As our service project this year, we raised over $800 for the Arkansas Foodbank, so that was a pretty cool undertaking.
Q. What message would you give to all the nurses out there in honor of Nurses Week?
Keep on keeping on! It’s tough out there, but nurses are such a vital part of our healthcare system.
Q. How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your decision to work in healthcare?
I’ve just seen so many incredible acts of selflessness, teamwork, and compassion from our healthcare workers. That’s what has always drawn me to this profession, and it’s definitely inspired me to be the best nurse I can be.
Q. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I’d like to give a shout out to my dog, Charlie, who has been 90 percent of my mental health support during the insane stress of nursing school.