nursing student practicing on a dummy

Nursing career goal leads SWOCC student home

Anne Matthews News

Mandy McCaffree’s life changed with one email.

“Congratulations! … you have been Provisionally Accepted into the Fall 2020 Nursing Program”

Sometimes life takes you in a circle that ultimately brings you home.

McCaffree’s story started long before she enrolled in SWOCC’s nursing program. Having grown up in North Bend, she worked as a certified nursing assistant for many years. She tried SWOCC for a while after high school, but quit to do other things.

“Life got ahead of me. I stopped. I wish I wouldn’t have,” McCaffee said.

She eventually landed in Idaho, working in human resources in a hospital. Her office was outside the operating room corridor. Drawn toward the action, she got to know the staff, and realized she missed working with patients. She wanted change in her life. Friends prodded her to go into nursing.

It’s not easy finding a nursing program. McCaffree loved Idaho. She looked into universities and small colleges there. Nothing seemed like a good fit, or their programs were too expensive. So, she called her mom in North Bend.

Her mom told her, “Hey did you hear? SWOCC got a big grant and they’re building a new nursing building. They’re going to accept more students.”

McCaffree did some research. SWOCC’s nursing program was changing, growing. It also was gaining in reputation for turning out good nurses.

Irony is, sometimes what you’re searching for is where you least expect it. McCaffree decided to return to her hometown.

“My great grandmother was a charge nurse for McAuley hospital (once in Coos Bay) for decades. I heard from family members that she was a very strong and determined woman who was well respected in her field. I hope I can follow in her footsteps,” McCaffree said.

That drive to succeed, that grit runs in the family. McCaffree overcame all the doubts in her head – fear of failure and the challenge of studying in a pandemic. Today, she is finishing her first year in SWOCC’s nursing program. She’s engaged and her education has put her on a path to a successful career.

“It’s a life-changing decision, but you can do it,” McCaffree said. “One day at a time.”