A career as a professional nurse can take you anywhere you want. Meet four examples.


Jackie Hummel

Jackie Hummel’s journey was not easy. It took her a decade to reach the place she is in now, but she would do it all over again.

Jackie had spent fifteen years as a medical assistant most recently at Bay Clinic. But she wanted to do more. While working part-time, she entered the nursing program at Southwestern, and is now a Pediatric nurse, specializing in caring for infants and children, and providing phone triage, becoming the bridge between medical care and emotional support. As a mom of three herself, she understands what’s going on at the other end of the phone.

Along the way, Jackie had support from fellow students and her family. Scholarships from the SWOCC Foundation and programs like STEP helped alleviate some of the financial burden. Regularly meeting with former nursing students provided guidance and boosted her self-esteem. Surrounding herself with people who had walked a similar path gave her the strength to keep going.

Jackie says, “Stay determined and refuse to give up. Don’t let setbacks discourage you from pursuing your dreams.” Now she has new goals. Starting next year, she will be going back to school to earn her bachelor of science in nursing at OHSU with a plan to become a Family Nurse Practitioner.


Heather Aldrich

Heather Aldrich thought she would like to be a nurse educator after she retired from nursing. But a short text four years ago made her think about it sooner. “I didn’t leave nursing because I didn’t love it (because I did, and I still do patient care), I just got an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I love explaining complicated concepts, watching the light go on in someone’s eyes, and taking the ‘terror’ out of a potentially intimidating situation.”

Heather started at Southwestern as a student after toying with the idea of medical school. Feeling at loose ends and visiting a friend in Coos Bay, on a whim she decided to try nursing. Eventually that lead to a bachelor’s degree from OHSU, then various kinds of nursing work from oncology, ICU, recovery, creating education programs for Bay Area Hospital, and teaching -clinicals for the college. 

Considering a nursing career but you’ve heard nursing school is hard? Heather says, “Nursing is for people with the right intent. Even if you’re not a “good student,” if you are a caring person, we want you.”


photo of Lori Shott

Lori Shott’s career path reflects the diverse opportunities available in nursing. 

Lori has a lot of advice for students and anyone considering a nursing career. “Start with a solid foundation in the science of nursing assessment and hone those nursing instincts. Keep an eye on your nursing goal but balance it with an open mind too. Be willing to change, adapt and see where life takes you. You will be able to apply the nursing process to whatever type of nursing career you end up doing.”

For Lori that has meant working in assisted living facilities, labor and delivery, clinical informatics (specializing in data related to clinics and hospitals), care management, at the Waterfall Clinic, and now in private practice as a Family Nurse Practitioner. And she teaches nursing labs at Southwestern.

Reflecting back to when she was a nursing student 20 years ago she says, “We had to do a lot of pretending. Not anymore! Nursing education looks so much different now with the new technology. And the instructors at Southwestern have been (and some still are) nurses in the community which adds a practical dimension to the education they provide.”


Chaz Davis

Chaz Davis believes that being a nurse is not just a job, but a calling. It goes beyond the routine tasks and medical procedures; it involves a sense of purpose and dedication to helping others in their most vulnerable moments. For Chaz, being a patient advocate is at the core of nursing. 

After a ten-year career as a paramedic, Chaz was looking for a more structured lifestyle. Nursing fit the bill and now he’s part of the surgery department at Curry General Hospital. He likes to point out that being a nurse is recession-proof. In times of economic uncertainty, healthcare remains an essential industry, ensuring job security for those in the field. Unlike other professions that can be outsourced or automated, the human touch and compassion provided by nurses cannot be replaced by technology.

About Southwestern Chaz says “It’s the best kept secret! It’s such an asset to this community, and the campus is beautiful. I never had a negative interaction, not just with Judy (Instructor Dr. Judith Dornbach) but with all the staff at the Curry Campus.” Chaz’s advice? “If you can invest some time, some money, and some focus, you’ll come out with a secure, sustainable career. It’s worth every minute.”


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