Auburn Family

There are many reasons why people decide to go to nursing school. For Ellen Sykes, this desire began when she was 13 years old. She was diagnosed with leukemia when she was in eighth grade, and for the next two and a half years, she had a great deal of contact with nurses. Throughout that experience, she began to realize that the nursing profession was one she could make a connection with. She said because her nurses were so great when she needed their help, she wanted to be able to help others in a similar way.

When describing why she decided she wanted to come to Auburn instead of a more medical concentrated university, Ellen said, “I wanted a close-knit, college town experience, and I knew Auburn would be perfect.”

The nursing program at Auburn is usually completed in two years, although some people choose to complete it in one and half. Generally, more than 200 students apply, but only approximately 90 are accepted each year.


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Ellen applied to the program at the end of her sophomore year. Once she was accepted, she began online classes that summer. Beginning in the fall, she split every week between classes and clinical.

There are different clinical groups every semester that work at various hospitals near the Auburn/Opelika area. Some of the major hospitals are Baptist Hospital in Montgomery, the Medical Center in Columbus and the East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika.

Each semester the group is involved in a different rotation concerning a certain medical field. These rotations consist of Medical-Surgical, Pediatrics, Psychiatrics, Obstetrics, and Critical Care.

The final rotation is called the Preceptorship. This is an internship in which the nursing students shadow a nurse at the hospital of their choice. Ellen said, “The time in clinical is critical to gaining experience for what I will be doing in the future because it provides a hands on perspective to what I’ve been studying in class.”

Ellen is currently working in the Pediatrics rotation and said that she knows she wants to concentrate on Pediatrics when she begins to work. Again, this aspiration stemmed from her childhood and the time spent with her nurses. She said, “Although being in this program takes up a lot of time, and college in nursing school isn’t the same as it was the first two years, it really is an incredible program. I’m beginning to feel like I’m prepared for the job I hope to have in the near future.”

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