This Nursing Alumna Can Do Anything
When Amy Larabee was six years old, her dad had surgery. That’s when she decided to be a nurse. “I just knew,” she recalls. She remembers that she loved being in the hospital—the smells, the people, the uniforms—everything about it. She looked at the nurses and thought, “I want to be like them.”
Amy grew up in a small town in North Carolina. Her family moved around a lot because of her dad’s military career—and they got to visit Colorado when she was a kid. She got her start in health care when she was still in high school by taking concurrent-enrollment classes at Central Carolina Community College. She got started working in medical records in her hometown when she was just 15, and then began working as a certified nurse aide at age 16.
Figuring Out How to Become a Nurse
A few years later, Amy moved out to Colorado because friends were living here (and she knew from her childhood visits that she liked the area). For a while, she worked as a property leasing agent in Colorado Springs while doing her prerequisite courses for nursing school.
“My family didn’t educate me on the whole college thing—I didn’t really know how it worked,” the first-generation college student recalls. “I just kept learning as I went, figuring out what I needed to do to become a nurse.” As it turns out, her path would eventually include three of the nursing programs at FRCC.
Amy moved to the Longmont area in 2002—and eventually came to FRCC for a certificate in practical nursing (often referred to as an LPN). This would be her next step toward her childhood career goal. While she was still taking nursing classes, she got a job at Longmont United Hospital authorizing insurance for surgeries or imaging. As soon as she finished her certificate, she got a nursing job at the same hospital as an LPN.
“Then when I found out FRCC was opening a bridge program to allow LPNs to become registered nurses (RNs), I signed up right away.” As soon as she finished her associate degree in nursing, she started working as an RN with SCL Health. “I worked at Good Samaritan Hospital right out of nursing school until COVID hit.”
A Bachelor’s Degree Required
When Amy got her job at Good Samaritan, she signed a contract agreeing to earn her bachelor’s degree in nursing within four years. “That was a requirement for my first RN job out of nursing school.”
She started her Bachelor of Science in nursing (BSN) at another university—but then she got an email alerting her that FRCC was opening up a new RN-to-BSN program. She transferred to FRCC almost immediately. “I knew the reputation FRCC has. Health care employers know the nurses will be prepared and knowledgeable. I wanted to keep FRCC on my résumé.”
Completing her bachelor’s degree was important to Amy. “I wanted to get the higher learning and education level because it opens up more career opportunities. A lot of hospitals that you want to work at have magnet status—and they require nurses to have a bachelor’s. If I want to work at, say, Children’s Hospital, getting my bachelor’s means that won’t block me from getting a job I want.”
This mother of four worked full time throughout her BSN program. During the fall semester of 2020, she took five classes while working full time and raising her kids. Luckily, her spouse is extraordinarily supportive. “He cooks everything,” she says. “He even packs me a lunch for work.”
A New Job in Management
As if all of that wasn’t enough, Amy also had dual employment doing long-term care throughout this time. In the middle of her BSN program, she got offered a new job as director of nursing for the 54-bed subacute rehab facility where she has her second job. At this skilled nursing facility, she and her colleagues provide inpatient care and physical therapy for patients recovering from a hospital stay.
Online BSN Program Worked Well for Her Busy Life
Amy describes her experience at FRCC in very positive terms. “I really appreciate the education I get from Front Range. It’s very interactive the way FRCC does it. I had one amazing teacher who always goes above and beyond for everybody.” Even though the BSN courses are all offered online, this instructor still managed to be “over-the-top interactive.”
“I didn’t know what to expect but the way the syllabus is written out, they introduce and orient you so that you know how it’s going to work. I knew the schedule, what the assignments were for the week—I could stay on top of it.” She got regular feedback from her instructors and could check in via video with her teachers, ask questions and go over any topics she needed more time on.
No Rest for the Weary
Amy finished the BSN program in December of 2020—earning one of the college’s first bachelor’s degrees. Now that she has her diploma and has settled into her new job, this first-generation college student is considering eventually becoming a nurse practitioner. She says her time at FRCC has prepared her well for any next steps in her education and career.
“Front Range always provides great education and prepares everyone for the setting you’re going into. The college has a great reputation in the community. Working in the health care field, I know what to expect and I know I’m going to be prepared.”
FRCC’s RN-to-BSN Completion Program has three application periods throughout the year. Find out more about the admissions process here.