The journey of a lifetime: I chose nursing at Palm Beach State College

Palm Beach State College alumna Sandra Raymond remembers the student-oriented, friendly environment she experienced as a student earning an Associate in Science degree in Nursing after graduating high school. Raymond was working as a cashier at the time and chose the PBSC Nursing program partly because of its flexibility so she could continue to work while attending college. She also wanted to stay local.

The beginning of a journey

Getting that first degree was just the beginning of Raymond’s educational journey.  After graduating from PBSC in 2005, Raymond immediately became a registered nurse. She then transferred to Florida Atlantic University and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing.  Raymond practiced medical-surgical nursing and worked in a variety of settings that included nursing homes, doctors’ offices, and different hospitals.  When it came time to pursue her education further, Raymond decided to earn a Master of Business Administration in Healthcare and graduated with that degree from Florida International University in 2015.

“I wanted to understand the business aspects of nursing and make a difference in that way,” said Raymond. “I was familiar with all aspects of nursing by that time. I had become interested in oncology, liked it, and followed an opportunity in the field to become a manager. The same month I graduated with the MBA degree, I was appointed director of medical oncology and infusion at Bethesda Hospital when that position was vacated through a promotion.”

Many nursing paths lead to rewarding careers

“My advice to people considering entering the field of nursing is to be open to learning,” Raymond said when asked about career opportunities.  “There is so much to learn, and you cannot limit yourself.  You can combine nursing with legal or business if you are interested in either of those disciplines, you can pursue nursing education if you enjoy teaching, or you can remain as a clinical nurse at the bedside to provide the much-needed care that our patients need.”

“I am proud as a member of the team in my current role of supporting others, seeing how people grow into the professionals they have become.  Leading by example – treating others how you wish to be treated – has enabled me to better support patients as well as staff.  I was fortunate to have Jackie Fogle, former assistant vice president of Patient Care Services at Bethesda Hospital as a clinical mentor.  Now I, in turn, have become a mentor to others.”

Working through challenges

Working through unfamiliar circumstances like the pandemic was one of the most challenging times Raymond faced in her career.

“As a leader, I needed to guide and be strong for my staff and patients,” Raymond said. “At first, we did not understand what was happening, yet at the same time, I had to take care of the staff and have them feel comfortable to take care of and do the right thing by the patients. We still had to provide care as we were going into the unknown and I was pleased that my team provided the best care to our patients.”

Raymond credits much of her success in having a leader, and a mentor, who, like her, led by example. Many organizations have formal mentorship programs for newcomers to the work environment.  At a more personal level, Raymond encourages students and those already working in the field to be observant in whatever work environment you find yourself, or as a volunteer, so that you can identify a role model for yourself.

In recognition of Palm Beach State College’s 90th anniversary, the weekly Alumni Spotlight Series showcases the College’s role in preparing generations of graduates to achieve success in myriad careers and give back to their local communities.

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