Growing up, when other girls were playing school, Linda Adcock says she was playing hospital. “I would treat my dogs like patients,” she laughs. “I loved the idea of caring for people for a job, and I knew from the time I was little I’d become a nurse.” Linda earned the BSN in 1972 from Baylor University and fell in love with labor and delivery during her nursing school rotations.
Building her experience
Though labor and delivery was always where her heart was, Linda’s career offered her many opportunities—in medical/surgical, quality management and other areas. She spent 19 years at Presbyterian Hospital of Denton, Texas, during which time she started an MSN program but stopped when life got in the way. She left Presbyterian in 2008 to expand her horizons, holding positions as a site manager for an OB/Gyn clinic and regional manager for a company of 40 Texas medical clinics.
A life change and an open door
When Linda’s husband became ill in 2013, she stepped away from the hospital environment to care for him and work part time in immunization clinics, knowing that she’d return to the clinical setting one day—and eventually, to school. “My husband was very encouraging about me getting the MSN, so it was on my mind,” she says. At the same time, an acquaintance—also an OB nurse—mentioned to Linda that she should consider applying for an adjunct position at North Central Texas College. “I’m so glad that I walked through that open door. I’m in the season of my life where I’m ready to influence nurses entering the field. I hope that my teaching approach has an impact on them as nurses and on the patients in their care.”
Back to school
After Linda’s husband passed away, she decided it was time to pursue her dream. “As nurses, we’re educators to our patients, their families and our coworkers, so it was a natural move to earn my master’s in nursing education,” she says. “It was something I’d thought about for years and my husband always wanted me to do.”
At the urging of her supervisor at North Central Texas College, who was pursuing her Doctor of Nursing Practice at American Sentinel, Linda looked into the university’s MSN, nursing education specialization. “Because of my late husband’s military service, I received discounted tuition, and American Sentinel accepted several classes from my bachelor’s degree. It all just fell into place.”
Applying as she learned
As a student for the first time in over 40 years, Linda admits that she had plenty of hurdles to overcome. “There were times I felt totally overwhelmed and ready to quit,” she says. “But shortly into the program, Carolyn Rupp became my advisor, and she is absolutely magnificent. I got into a rhythm, and it became fun. I was learning things in my classes that I used in my own teaching.”
As she neared graduation, an opportunity arose to become the content expert in obstetrics for the college’s simulation center, teaching in the ADN and LVN programs. “The MSN put me in a good position to do something I really like doing, and it also helped fill a need for our college,” Linda says.
Proudly crossing the finish line
In June 2016, Linda graduated with an MSN, nursing education specialization—at the age of 65. “The quality of the program, the enthusiastic professors and the structure of the classes—it’s all been great,” she says. As for advice to someone else considering going back to school late in their career, Linda says the investment is worth it.
“If I’d known what a good time I was missing out on, I would’ve gone years ago!” she says. “Time passes no matter what, so why not pass it doing something that’s invigorating? Really, there’s nothing more invigorating than furthering your education around others who are as excited about a subject as you are.”
Inspired by Linda’s story? An MSN program can be your passport to a specialty nursing field, like nursing education, informatics, nursing management and organizational leadership, or infection control. Specialized knowledge forms the foundation of these nursing fields. When you acquire new knowledge, you can apply it to nursing practice in ways that enhance patient care and improve outcomes.