Bridging Obstacles

Story by Kyle DeVries 

Sharon Stephens is the Residency Coordinator at the Family Medical Care Center (FMCC) at Cox North Hospital. She had dreams of becoming a nurse, but the path to realizing this dream was laden with obstacles, the largest one being financial, in that she would be forced to give up her full-time job. In order to follow her dreams, Sharon needed a way to take classes without leaving her position at FMCC.

In July of 2017, Cox College announced the launch of a new ASN night and weekend program. Word of this revolutionary program exploded into the news feeds, timelines, and televisions of everyone in southwest Missouri. People were calling by the hundreds to get more information.

But that’s not even the coolest part of the story. The ASN night and weekend program was brought into existence by Sharon herself.

As anyone in the local health care community knows, the southwest Missouri region has a sizable nursing shortage on its hands. And Sharon, being in the heart of Cox North, was well aware that her dream job just happened to be in dire need of someone like her—dedicated and possessed of a drive to help others. Eventually, discussing the shortage among peers wasn’t enough. A need was identified and there had to be ways to fill it. So Sharon sat down with Sonya Hayter, Vice President of Student Affairs and College Advancement at Cox College.

Sharon was the ideal voice to bring certain obstacles to light. She was a living example of someone who wanted to help fill the nurse shortage herself, but was constrained by time and resources, and she knew there had to be others like her. People who wanted to be nurses, but were intimidated by the obstacles in their path. The solution? Build a bridge over those obstacles. In this case, develop a degree program tailored specifically with the working student in mind—students who couldn’t feasibly part with their jobs but had the drive and passion to become nurses. This program would offer night classes and clinical opportunities on the weekends.

Within a few months, the ASN night and weekend program snowballed from an idea to reality. In January of 2018, the first class of this new program began, with Sharon, of course, alongside others who were like her. People who want to change their lives, pursue their education, and help fill the gaps of the nursing shortage.

Sharon’s persistence is a testament to what can happen when you refuse to relinquish your dreams. Not only is she writing her own story, but she paved the way for others within our community to do the same—pursue their ambitions while remaining employed so they can support themselves and their families.

“I am ready to start my new career,” Sharon said. “I know Cox College is changing, and being a part of that when it is happening is exciting.” The first ASN night and weekend class is set to graduate in December of 2019. Sharon will walk with her fellow classmates across the stage and into the halls of our community hospitals, ready to serve.