Nursing career takes online coordinator in unexpected direction

Karla Wilson always knew she wanted to enter the nursing profession but said her career path took her in a direction she didn’t initially anticipate.

“Nursing is very niche rich. There’s a spot for almost everyone’s interests. I always knew it was something I wanted to do, but I didn’t take the path that I thought I would. The profession is very broad in the variety of opportunities available,” Wilson said.

The Strawberry High School graduate earned her associate’s degree in nursing in 1997 from Arkansas State University-Jonesboro. She worked in long-term care at Cave City Nursing Home and in cardiac step down providing post-operative care for heart patients at St. Bernard’s in Jonesboro. Wilson went on to work two years in home healthcare before taking a position with White River Medical Center where she worked for the next 15 years. She filled several leadership roles at WRMC including nurse manager of the psychiatric unit, nursing director for multiple nursing units and nurse manager for the medical-surgical units.

Wilson is now the registered nursing program online coordinator at the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville. She recently completed her master’s of science in nursing online from Chamberlain College of Nursing.

“I always had in my mind that at some point I would teach. I wanted to complete my master’s because every level of nursing education opens new opportunities for you,” she said.

While Wilson was involved in workplace education, this is her first college teaching position.

“As an online student, I was interested in continuing to work in that environment, so the opportunity to teach online was perfect,” Wilson said. “As a nurse leader, I saw that online education is paramount for new nurses because it allows them to continue their education while working. My own online experience has prepared me to help my students thrive.”

Wilson said online education is the way of the future and encourages all students to consider it as an option.

“Nursing is a highly technical field, and online education helps build those technical skills. Any online education is doable. It requires dedication and being able to prioritize what is important, which are skills needed any career,” she said.

Wilson and her husband, Dr. Michael Wilson, live in Cave City. They have four daughters, Emily, Polly-Beth, Mary-Kate and Bonnie, and two grandchildren, Nadylee and Smith.