Nursing a career

(Herald and News) When Brooke Higgins graduated with Klamath Community College’s first class of nursing students earlier this month, she took the next step in her career.

Higgins is a certified nursing assistant who grew up with a nurse-grandmother and strong interest in medicine. “I’ve always wanted to be a nurse, ever since I was a little girl,” she said.

As a certified nursing assistant at Cascades East Family Practice, Higgins routinely checks on patients. She sat with a man in mid-December, using an arm cuff and stethoscope to take his blood pressure and pulse.

“And that’s a lot of my day,” she said.

If she passes her state exams in early 2012, then she’ll be allowed to do more as a licensed practical nurse – give shots, take blood and oversee nursing assistants.

“I just wanted to start working in my field,” Higgins said. “There’s a lot as a (certified nursing assistant) that I can’t do.”

Higgins said she plans to apply to a registered nursing program next year while pursing work as an LPN.

“That’s a way to get me into the field sooner,” she said.

Registered nurses have more responsibilities and, according to state labor statistics, bigger salaries.