As Christmas break begins for students at Colorado Northwestern Community College, second-year nursing students are facing some real-life decisions during their three weeks off.
When they return in January, they need to be thinking about their specialty area of study, known as the "Capstone" program.
"Second year students go through 90 hours of capstone training," nursing program director Marilyn Hehr said. "It's where they get experience working with children or in burn units. Some choose intensive care or obstetrics."
Second-year student Caleb McClung, of Penrose, is happy to be in Craig's nursing program.
"Last year, I was in a program in Durango and it was crowded," he said. "I started here in the fall. Now I have one more semester to go."
McClung said he got into nursing because he was tired of pouring concrete and baking bagels.
"My mother-in-law is a nurse, and it seemed like a job I wouldn't get bored with," he said. "When you get certified, you can live anywhere in the United States and there's a job for you."
McClung hasn't decided on an area to specialize in at this time. He currently is gaining medical/surgical experience and learning about diseases.
Sarah Schulz was working with computerized charting systems at Yampa Valley Medical Center in Steamboat Springs when she decided to become a nurse.
"I worked with nurses, and I saw the vital role they play in healthcare," she said. "It's rewarding, helping people."
Schulz was offered a scholarship by the hospital and will work for them when she graduates in the spring.
Her Christmas plans include spending time with family coming in from Wisconsin.
The hardest part of this semester of nursing school was time management for Schulz, who works in Steamboat Springs and goes to school in Craig.
McClung is just glad to be inside this time of year.
"The hardest part is getting used to the cold," he said.
Finals are Monday and Tuesday at the college, and classes resume Jan. 15.
Dan Olsen can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 207, or firstname.lastname@example.org.