Public Relations and Marketing Communications
CLARKSTON, Ga. – Sometimes it takes time to realize your dreams.
Just ask Perimeter College nursing graduate Madeline Jeffcoat, who started then stopped, her nursing education four years ago. Today, Jeffcoat is among more than 50 Perimeter College nursing students who will graduate with an associate degree May 5. She was recently recognized for her academic excellence and professional demeanor during the annual student STAR Honors awards.
A nursing career was always at the back of her mind but the first time didn’t work out, she said.
“I went to a nursing school in Florida (right out of high school) and left after a year to come back home to Georgia—it just didn’t work out for me financially.”
She worked in the hospitality industry for four years. Then her infant niece got sick. Watching how nurses cared for her niece, and her brother’s family, reignited her passion for the profession.
“In 2019, my niece was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. She had major open-heart surgery and spent four months in the cardiac ICU,” she said.
“As I sat in the waiting room during her first heart surgery, I realized I wanted to go back to nursing. I could see the nurses really cared not only for the patient but for the family of my brother and sister-in-law, giving them physical and emotional support. I got to see that firsthand with my niece, and it re-sparked something in me to go back to nursing school.”
Her niece ended up passing away at four months, but that spark remained, she said. She decided to go back to nursing school. This time, she stayed closer to home. She chose Perimeter College because she found that many of the college students were not traditional students. “Perimeter College’s nursing program is a great program for students who aren’t traditional, like me – they’re older, and many are into their second career, and they’re working, with kids and families.”
During nursing school, Jeffcoat also worked at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta on the cardiac acute care floor as a patient care specialist, helping the nursing staff.
“Although seeing the great care for my niece made me love pediatrics, my long-term goal is to work in flight nursing as a first responder,” she said.
She already has a job. “I’m moving to Idaho with my husband and will be working in an intensive care unit at a hospital in Boise.” The move represents something new and different, she said.
Now 26, Jeffcoat is excited to get her nursing degree. “This is my first graduation since high school,” she said. But she expects it won’t be her last. “Nursing is a field where you can’t rest on your laurels after graduating—the healthcare industry is constantly moving forward, and because of this, nurses can learn new skills and expand their area of expertise. I want to have a career with that kind of possibility.”
Story by Rebecca Rakoczy
Photo by Bill Roa