“The Odds Were Against Us” Teen Mom Says. She Became a Nurse Anyway
By Brianna Flavin on 10/10/2023
Elizabeth Bullard had her first daughter as a teenager. She didn’t graduate from high school, but she wanted to become a nurse.
“I always had a passion for caring for people, and I wanted to be an LPN like my mom, but I didn’t think I could do it,” Bullard says. Bullard now has six kids she wants to provide for, and the idea of nursing kept popping up in her mind. She kept thinking, what if my work could be something I’m really passionate about?
The first step, she knew, was to get her GED®. “I really had to just sit down, study for my GED and take that first step,” Bullard says. When she passed, she started researching nursing programs.
“I did a lot of research online, but I also called around,” Bullard says. “Rasmussen was the first to really go in-depth with me. The admissions advisor was so helpful and made the process easy, and a month later, I was already starting!”
The clarity about what the whole Practical Nursing Diploma program at Rasmussen University would look like was especially helpful for Bullard, because she knew she needed to plan far ahead to make things work. “They give you this map of what your schedule will be from start to finish. Right away, I knew what each semester would look like.”
Getting used to school again
“I hadn’t been in school for a long time,” Bullard says. Adding that finding a schedule for her studies amid the chaos schedule of six children took dedicated effort. “I connected with my first professor in the nursing program, right away.”
Bullard’s first instructor became a mentor to her, working on schedule habits, studying techniques and more.
“She helped me with everything and anything. If I didn’t understand material or where to get resources, she was always there to help.”
Succeeding through small doses
Right from the start, Bullard put herself on a schedule. “I had to sacrifice silly, daily things. No, don’t take the trash out, sit down and study,” she would tell herself.
Studying frequently, for shorter intervals wound up working best for Bullard. With the online course set up, she had the freedom to pace herself this way and make things repetitive to remember them better. Her husband would sit down with her to go through flash cards, over and over.
“You have to be self-disciplined and keep yourself accountable,” Bullard says. She explains that in a program like this, you might be tempted to put things off. “You might think, I’m just gonna go out today instead. No. If you want to get to the end, you’ve got to pass that exam.”
Belief leads to bigger dreams
“I doubted myself, and I’d gotten into this mindset of thinking I’m a teen mom, I’m never going to get anywhere,” Bullard says. “We had a lot of odds against us.”
But one of the things she learned is that she can handle more than she realized. “I’m a lot stronger and smarter than I think.”
When Bullard graduated from the Practical Nursing program this spring, she passed the NCLEX-PN® and got a job right away as a licensed practical nurse.
“It can be scary coming out of nursing school, even though you just passed everything, you wonder do I know what I need to know?” Bullard had been talking to a recruiter who’d come to visit the Rasmussen University Central Pasco campus in Florida. “After I graduated, I applied and interviewed—and they hired me. It was super easy.”
Now, Bullard loves working as an LPN. And she keeps thinking of the last semester in her program where they got to do labor and delivery. “It was the most fun clinical experience I ever had,” Bullard says. “I’ve had six children, but seeing everything that happens on the other side, it’s just amazing.”
Her next step in her nursing career involves more education. “I’m probably going to pursue my RN, because I want to be there as a labor and delivery nurse, and stay with my patients through the whole thing,” Bullard says. “I’ve always loved children, and I would love to help moms bring beautiful babies into this world.”
Even after that, Bullard also hopes her advancing career will take her into a charge nurse position or an advanced management role eventually.
“Not anytime soon, because I really like bedside nursing. But I do well with instructing other people, and I would love to be able to support new nurses and be there for them. I too was in that spot.”
If she can find a Rasmussen option, either online or nearby her new home in Tennessee, she plans to enroll there. “I would definitely be going back.”
Support through nursing school makes all the difference
Having the support of her family helped Bullard thrive in her program. And finding support from faculty, clinical coordinators and other university staff helped her overcome each barrier she faced.
“Find someone you can feel connected to, someone you can reach out to,” she advises. “There’s going to be something you don’t understand.”
Dosage and calculations was one subject area Bullard had a tough time with. So she reached out to her professor for help. “She stayed after class and showed me specific dosage and calc resources, and I got it.”
“The support was how Rasmussen excelled,” Bullard says. “You really don’t feel alone.”
To anyone else out there who would love to be a nurse, Bullard urges you to take that first step.
“It’s scary, picking up the phone and calling, but do it,” she says, “The nursing program is hard, but it’s not impossible. Take the first step and call, get some information, and before you know it you’ll be halfway through your programs.”
GED® is a registered trademark of the American Council on Education
NCLEX-PN® is a registered trademark of the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Inc.