Rebecca Kiely said she has always wanted to take care of others and nursing seemed a natural job choice.

"From the time I was very little, that's what I've wanted to do," she said. Thanks to a relationship between Northwestern State University, Leesville/Fort Polk and Fort Polk's Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital, Kiely is on the cusp of realizing that dream.
Kiely is one of 15 NSU nursing students who are fulfilling their clinicals at BJACH during the current fall semester. The students are scheduled to graduate in May as registered nurses.

Although BJACH is not the only hospital at which the NSU nursing students train, Laura Davis, another student, said it's been a pleasant surprise. "The doctors and nurses here are very nice and the hospital is clean and well organized," Davis said. "I'm disappointed you have to have a year's experience to work here; I'd like to work here after I graduate." Kiely agreed with Davis' take. "At other hospitals where I've trained, the staff acted like they didn't want to have anything to do with me," she said. "I love it here. It's like everyone is family and they want to help."

Kiely also echoed Davis' desire to work at BJACH once she graduates. "I don't necessarily want to be in the military, but I do want to work here," she said. "It's the best place I've been."

During their clinicals, the prospective nurses work in different areas of the hospital, from pediatric care to the emergency room. Kiely said the variety of work opens up a student's thought process as to which field they might work in once they graduate.

"I'd always thought labor and delivery was where I wanted to work," she said. "Then I did an ER (emergency room) rotation. I fell in love with it and learned so much that at the end of the day I didn't want to go home. It will be a tough choice."

Nursing student Sarie Arthur said BJACH offers opportunities that other local hospitals can't. "One big difference is the size of the hospital," Arthur said. "It's so much bigger than a lot of the other local hospitals that you get a wider variety of patients and problems. Also, the clinics are centrally located so we can see all types of nursing in one place."

Mila Johnson said a tour in labor and delivery was an "eye opener" for her. "This was my first labor and delivery rotation and I had no idea how something like a C-section (Cesarean section) worked," she said. "I've seen some procedures for the first time and worked with newborns." Prior to her stint in labor and delivery, Johnson said she spent a rotation in BJACH's emergency room. "We had all kinds of patients," she said. "I learned how to prioritize. I'm glad I had the chance to see so many disciplines."

Nursing student GiGi Love said the clinicals have given her the confidence that what she learned in the classroom actually works. "It also helped us learn how to relate to patients," she said. "You can't learn that in a book." If she could work at BJACH and had her choice of clinics, Love said she would choose labor and delivery. "The rooms are beautiful, it has all of the up-to-date equipment and is so hi-tech," she said. "I love working with the military and wouldn't mind being in the military one day." Maj. William Kuhns, chief of hospital education for BJACH, said the clinical program with NSU at BJACH is just one of the outreach programs the hospital extends to the Fort Polk area. "We're well vested all through the local community and even into Texas," Kuhn said. "It's what cooperation is all about. We're proud to do our part to help train future nurses."