A medical condition of her own leads a nurse to pursue two Walden degrees and transform herself into a nurse educator, mentor, and leader.

In 2010, Rebecca Barton received a Project Working Mom full-tuition scholarship to attend Walden University. A full-time nurse educator, mother, and student, Rebecca says she is “creating her own history.”

Rebecca Barton and Daughter

Rebecca decided to return to school when her daughter was 2 years old. Rebecca, who received a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis while pregnant, realized it was becoming difficult to continue working as a nurse in the intensive care unit (ICU) at her local hospital. At the time, she held an associate degree, which she didn’t feel would help her advance beyond bedside nursing. In order to progress in her career and to find a job with fewer physical demands in case there was a change in her condition, Rebecca decided to enroll at Walden. She earned her Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and is currently enrolled in the Doctor of Education (EdD) program.

Of her multiple sclerosis diagnosis, Rebecca says, “To be honest, I see it as an opportunity. I would not have gone into teaching if it hadn’t been for the multiple sclerosis. When I left the ICU, I had a good friend suggest I teach. I looked at her and said, ‘Seriously?’ And that is what I do now, and I love it.”

In recognition of National Nurses Week, Rebecca shared her thoughts on the importance of nurse educators.

Why is being a nurse educator important to you and what role do you see yourself playing in advancing the nursing profession?

As a nurse educator, I have the opportunity to help develop the future of nursing by teaching those going into the profession. I see myself playing the role of mentor and leader in the advancement of the nursing profession. There are so many new nurses who need guidance and support as they enter the profession, and as an educator, I can provide that for my students.

How has your education made a difference in your life either personally or professionally?

My Walden education has enhanced not only my nursing skills and abilities but also my self-confidence in using those skills and abilities to teach and mentor new nurses. I am able to trust my abilities and know that I am providing the most up-to-date evidence-based information not only to my students but also to the patients we care for in the clinical setting.

How do you manage working full time, going to school, and being a mom?

It is a difficult task, but truly I have a lot of support. Yes, it can be very stressful, but it can be managed. I tell my students all the time to keep a sense of humor or they will burn out quickly in stressful situations. That is one thing I learned in the ICU when I worked there.

In celebration of National Nurses Week, what is the one piece of advice you would share with others in the nursing profession?

I would encourage those who want to be nurses to not give up and go with their dreams. We need nurses who care and are willing to learn how to be competent caregivers.

To celebrate National Nurses Week, the College of Health Sciences is offering full-tuition, $10,000 and $5,000 Nurses of the Year scholarships for new students enrolling in the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program.

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