I meet with faculty and students quite a bit, and I like to share their stories. This is an occasional series.

Patricia Graham, Nurse Aide Program director at the Boulder County Campus, has a career path that started out like many Front Range students.

“I never thought I would be a teacher,” Patricia says, “In fact, I never thought I would go to college. I am a first-generation college graduate. I started out working in a nursing home as a housekeeper after I graduated from high school.”

Housekeeper to Nurse Aide

That job started Graham on her career path. She took a nurse aide class in the nursing home. “I made a lot of mistakes and learned how to be good at my job the hard way,” she said. Wanting to learn the right way, she enrolled at Front Range.

Nurse Aide to Registered Nurse

Yes, Patricia is a former Front Range student, coming through the Boulder County Campus Practical Nursing Program and receiving her Associate of Applied Science in nursing from Front Range’s Westminster Campus. She also earned a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from the University of Colorado and a Master of Science in nursing education from the University of Northern Colorado.

Registered Nurse to Teacher

“My background helps me relate to my students,” Patricia says. “I challenge students to be the best that they can be by holding them to high standards that will ensure they are competent, knowledgeable, and caring health-care providers.”

Teacher to Master Teacher

Patricia won the Master Faculty Award at the Boulder County Campus in 2009. Students and faculty colleagues nominated her.

“In her understanding and expectation of excellence, she has afforded the patients her students care for a better quality of life,” wrote one student. Another wrote, “In the event that I require the care of a CNA (Certified Nurse Aide), I pray that I am fortunate enough to get one that was trained in a program like Patricia Graham’s.”

“Her number one priority in teaching these student nurse aides is the enormous impact they will have on the patients,” one colleague wrote in nomination. “She takes that responsibility very seriously and somehow manages to instill in her students the honor and integrity needed to fulfill that role. Many students have described Patricia’s class as life-changing.”

Master Teacher to Certified Nurse Educator

In 2010, Patricia earned the designation Certified Nurse Educator (CNE) from the National League for Nursing. Certification is earned after passing a rigorous examination and meeting defined standards of excellence.

Yes, indeed, quite a career path for someone not intending to go to college.


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