Learning Invaluable Skills

Shane Hurt’s Story with ANU

Shane and his wife, Misty.

After the downturn of the coal industry, Gary “Shane” Hurt left his job on the railroad to pursue a different career field. With inspiration from both his daughter, who is a nurse, and a nurse he met after breaking his hand, Shane found his new passion. “I should have done this a long time ago,” says Shane about his new career field. Shane began his nursing education at American National University’s Pikeville campus, finding us because his wife holds her own accounting degree from our institution. He has been working hard for his new career – and soon starts at Pikeville Medical Center in their emergency department after the 2023 graduation ceremony. All of his hard work has paid off in not only securing him a spot in the field he has new passions for, but it has also made him ANU’s first ever Nursing Student of the Term for Term 231!

While Shane knew of ANU because of his wife’s time earning her degree, he chose to attend our nursing program because of the flexibility he knew he’d have with our program. He says, “being a little bit older, having a family, I still have to work. Your bills don’t just go away when you go to nursing school… so I needed somewhere I could still manage to work and be able to pay the bills and allow myself to go to college.” He looked into ANU when he remembered his wife being able to attend evening classes after working, “it was a perfect fit for me as an older, working adult.” In his final terms, Shane was not only able to work as a CNA at Tug Valley ARH, but also as an Extern at Pikeville Medical Center – all while finishing his schoolwork!

His experiences within his program have allowed him to see the ins-and-outs of nursing and really settle on what he wants to focus his career on. ANU professors and instructors are all career professionals and bring their own working experience to their teachings. Shane witnessed that firsthand with each one he had in class.

“I’ve learned a ton from every one of the professors I’ve had,” he says, “they each bring a different background, a different specialty… As you go along and you have different instructors from different fields, you get a broad view of nursing.”

From having experiences in every department his instructors, Shane has been able to really find what he wants to do once he earns his licensure. Through his experiences, Shane found his interests in the emergency department. When it comes to his externship, he has been able to apply his knowledge and skills in a hands-on way. He says, “With the partnership with PMC (Pikeville Medical Center), the externship has been fantastic. You can actually do nursing skills you get on the floor, you see the patients, and the interactions with patients have just been invaluable in my future nursing career.”

Shane, in his ANU scrubs, during a recent career fair in Pikeville.

When it comes to his professors, Shane feels supported by the staff and faculty involved in his education. Even times when he felt like it was all too much, his professors have been able to push him through to his educational and career goals. “They all are approachable; you can talk to them. [There are] times I have gotten overwhelmed, and you can just talk to them,” he describes, “They’ll help you… They [have] a way to keep you calm and tell you ‘It’s going to be okay, you’re going to be fine, you’re going to get through it.’” He says they’ve all had a hand in keeping him going through his education – with names mentioned like Phyllis Bowling, Michelle Caudill, and Betty Sue Reynolds – he says, “they’ve all been fantastic.”

For his foreseeable future, Shane wants to stay at Pikeville Medical Center to work. As his kids age, he says his future depends on where they go. He hopes to later earn a master’s degree in nursing so that he can move into teaching the next generation of nurses.

Shane recommends ANU to those looking to earn their higher education.

“It’s no different than every other school, it’s very hard, it’s very challenging, but it’s very worth it. I have had a good experience here at ANU.”

His advice for new students earning their higher education: “Have a schedule and keep organized… Ask for help early, if you see you’re struggling very early on, ask for help. [The professors] have been really, really open to help you if you ask early.”

Click here to read about the impact nurses have on healthcare and what Shane has to say about what nurses bring to the medical field.

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