May 11, 2009
Daughter follows mom’s path
Nurse drawn to profession by mother’s long career caring for the sick
Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Colleen Stafford, left, and her daughter Alicia Warren are both nurses. Stafford has been a nurse for 33 years and her daughter for two years.
When Alicia Warren was growing up, her mother worked in many different venues — hospitals, schools, prisons — but everywhere she went, she was a nurse.
The wide variety of job possibilities and the opportunity to help people appealed to Warren. A few years ago, Warren decided to follow in her mother’s footsteps and become a nurse.
“Helping people made her feel better about herself, and it does (that for) me, too,” Warren said.
National Nurses Week began Wednesday and ends Tuesday.
Warren and her mother, Colleen Stafford, grew up in Cortland. Stafford now lives on Wall Street in Homer, and Warren lives on Central Avenue in the city.
Stafford started her career as an aid in central supplies at Cortland Regional Medical Center. She works at Kendal, a system of communities in Ithaca for older adults. It includes apartments, an assisted living facility and a nursing home, and residents can move into different facilities as they need more assistance.
Warren works as a home nurse for a mother at a house in Erieville. Her employer has a baby daughter who was born with a rare disease that causes the girl to be partially blind and deaf and has required two heart surgeries.
Warren said she usually works nights so that the mother can sleep, but she is on call to work whenever the mother needs her help or medical attention.
Stafford has been a licensed practical nurse for 33 years, and Warren has been a licensed practical nurse for a year.
But they are now classmates, each working to become registered nurses.
They are taking online courses through the College Network, a program that allows institutions to provide degrees through the Web site www.college-net.com/.
For most of her career, Stafford did everything that a registered nurse could do except give patients intravenous therapy. But recent procedural and legal changes prevent Stafford from doing some of the tasks she used to do.
In the past five years, medical professionals have made strong distinctions between registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and nurses aids, she said.
Stafford said that after she gets her associate degree to be a registered nurse, she plans to get her bachelor’s degree in nursing. This will enable her to make about $20,000 more per year and serve in an administrative role, she said.
Warren wants to be a traveling nurse — a nurse who travels for specific assignments — and see different parts of the country. But she said she is open to working in different settings, such as hospitals and prisons, so that she can learn more about the field.
Stafford said that the medical field offers more job security than any other field.
The demand for nurses will continue to grow because people of the baby boomer generation will live longer than previous generations and need extra medical attention, she said.
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