Nursing wasn’t Lorie Stucke’s first love. That was journalism, the career where she’d spent more than a decade. But turmoil in that industry prompted her to do some soul-searching.
What she liked about journalism was the chance to build trust with someone, to tell their story and by that action become part of their story in a small way. What other career, she wondered, could make her feel the same way?
Turns out, it was nursing. “I realized that patients need you to help them understand what’s happening, that they can’t always articulate what they need and you need to be their champion,” she said. “That’s where you become part of their story.”
Stucke enrolled in the Washington State University College of Nursing in 2013, when she was 39.
In doing so, she was among a small but consistent group of students at the college who begin their nursing studies after age 35. Over the last five years, about 7 percent of the pre-licensure students at the WSU College of Nursing were over age 35 when they took their first nursing program class. Ten students were 50 or older when they started.
Megan Fadeley was the undergraduate advisor Stucke met with when she was contemplating applying to the College of Nursing. She told Stucke, and would tell others, to make sure they’ve got a good support system before embarking on the demanding program. Fadeley said older students often are daunted by the thought of starting over in nursing, but “once they get here, they see they’re not alone.”
Stucke was 41 when she graduated from the WSU College of Nursing in 2015.
She said the “connecting” part of nursing was a snap because of her background and maturity, whereas the clinical experiences were nerve-wracking. She thought the reverse was probably true for some of the younger students in her class. But faculty were there to support each student’s needs. “I was always so impressed by the faculty here and what they would do for their students,” Stucke said. “How they worked to help students overcome their fears and steer them to where they would find success, always with a very gentle but honest interaction.”
She added, “If you talk to people about why they do this job, which is hard physically and hard emotionally, the answer is we all feel like we’re making a difference in the lives of our patients. From the little, like giving someone comfort when they’re in pain, to the big, like taking a young woman who had a failing heart through the transplant process. That’s a miracle.”
For more information on the Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Washington State University College of Nursing, visit our website, or contact Academic Coordinator Kyle Ross, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (509) 324-7472.