Fulfilling the Dream: Alli Scales

Posted Date - 2/22/24

Alesondria “Alli” Scales never thought she wanted to work in pediatrics. The thought of caring for the health of babies was pretty intimidating, but as she attended nursing school she said she felt a pull in an unexpected direction.

Scales, who graduated from the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville (UACCB) in December with a Registered Nursing degree, said she always thought her first round of nursing school was challenging, but when she went back in 2023 for her RN, she was confronted with a whole set of trials for which she was not prepared.

Scales said after high school graduation, she toyed briefly with business then cosmetology before landing in the nursing program. She had overcome a number of obstacles before accomplishing her dream and obtaining her LPN degree at UACCB in 2022.

Scales said she found a job at a clinic but knew she wanted something faster paced. “I decided I wanted to work in a hospital because I felt like I was losing some of my skills like putting in IVs and things like that,” she said.

But going back to school as a single mom while also working was more difficult than Scales had imagined.

In January 2023 Alli went to work at St. Bernards in Jonesboro on the Med Stroke floor, and that same month she started the LPN to RN bridge program at UACCB.

Balancing the fast tempo of her job, studying, a family member's illness, and trying to enroll her daughter, who was nonverbal at the time, in preschool and speech therapy threatened to put her emotions into overload.

“I was having to change my mindset from working as an LPN to studying for my RN. Initially it was OK but then I started working overtime,” she recalled.

Car problems further exacerbated an already stressful situation.

“If my mom texted me I was afraid to look and see what it said,” she recalled, explaining how she automatically feared the worst.

“My anxiety wore on me, and I found out I have generalized anxiety order and ADHD, and then I was diagnosed with high blood pressure. It was a lot. ... You still have to be a mom and make sure your kid is taken care of, but then you also have to be the student and make sure the school things are taken care of.”

It was a blessing, she said, that she was able to get a diagnosis that not only put things into perspective, but also allowed to get some much needed medications for those things.

“It was a tough year last year, but there was light at the end of the tunnel because I was able to take my tests and finish the LPN to RN program,” she said. “Career Pathways and the TRIO program (at UACCB) helped me get my schooling paid for, and they helped me pay for uniforms for my job.”

She said the nursing instructors at UACCB were also a big support as well.

“If I needed to cry, they would give me a hug or words of encouragement. They went out of their way to reach out to me and see if I was OK. I'm usually a loud, bubbly person but I had some rough days, and I always felt like I could talk to (the faculty and staff) and work things out,” Scales said.

Scales said before going into the bridge program, she had never wanted to go into pediatrics.

“I was scared of them, but I was getting closer to God and felt like He was calling me to work with children. I got to do a peer shadowing on that floor, where I held and fed a baby, and that really solidified (the call),” she said.

She entered the preceptorship program at St. Bernards, where she would follow an experienced nurse to gain further experience and individualized attention, which required a certain amount of hours that did not include her regular shifts. Alli's hard work paid off as she completed the preceptorship and accepted a position at the hosptial's NICU pending she pass the exam for her RN degree known as NCLEX.

Alli made plans to take the test just a few weeks later, but then on Christmas Eve she found out she had Covid and got sent home from work. Scales said she used that extra time to study and was actually able to take the NCLEX a little early, after being swabbed and testing negative for Covid.

Scales said she hopes 2024 goes more smoothly, and she loves her current job working with babies. Her daughter is now 4 and talking in full sentences - a major step forward, Scales noted.

Scales said one thing she would like her daughter to see is that life may not go how you plan it, and there may be more than one stumbling block along the way - but obstacles can be opportunities in disguise.

“Just because you can't do it this year, doesn't mean you can't do it next year or in two years - as long as you're alive, you can't let one defeat or several defeats stop you.”

Scales said her journey to nursing school may have taken longer than many people's might - and it was also an emotional journey, but she is very thankful for the support of not only her family but also the faculty and staff at UACCB.

“I feel like it really solidified my friendships with the people I went to school with. … I got to meet new people and new friends,” she said.

“Dealing with babies and parents is a lot different, but I knew I picked the right place to be. It was a big jump going from LPN to RN, but it was worth it.

“It took me seven years to get my nursing degree … but I did eventually get here. It's not always four years for everybody, but that doesn't mean that person is any less worthy. Get your mind set and you can accomplish anything you want,” she said.

Story by Andrea Bruner

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