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Teamwork Helps Nadal Graduate, Take Nursing Boards before Deployment

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Chelsea NadalChelsea Nadal knew her nursing program at St. Louis Community College-Forest Park might get interrupted at any time. Such is the life of an U.S. Army reservist.

As it turned out, with the backing of her unit and the help of her college, Nadal will have both finished her degree program and taken her board exams to become a registered nurse before she ships out.

“I wouldn’t have been in this position if it wasn’t for my unit, if it wasn’t for the staff at Forest Park,” Nadal said, “If it wasn’t for Karen (Mayes, director of nursing education), if it wasn’t for the Missouri Board of Nursing. I really feel like they deserve the recognition more than anything else.

“It’s not really about me.”

Nadal begins her deployment to Kuwait on May 29 – she must quarantine at a base in the United States for two weeks before going overseas – which would normally have made it incredibly difficult for her to take the nursing board exams. There are several steps in the process before a nurse can take the tests, and it customarily takes about two or three weeks after a student takes her final exams.

Chelsea NadalKnowing that Nadal couldn’t wait that long, everyone worked together to give her the opportunity to take the boards before she left.

Her unit, which has already deployed, let her stay back to finish her semester. Melanie Stegeman, registrar, and Tracy Williams, coordinator of student records, at Forest Park expedited the process to confirm Nadal met all the requirements to graduate and then Mayes drove two hours to deliver the paperwork to the Missouri Board of Nursing in Jefferson City.

“I would have driven 10 hours,” Mayes said. “At this point in the process, every hour is critical to speeding up this process. Because every hour we wait to get the material to Jefferson City, that means more transcripts are being delivered to the Board of Nursing from across Missouri and delaying how long it will take to get to Chelsea’s.”

The state regulators, who were aware of the situation, provided Nadal a “Military Deployment Exception.” Within 30 minutes of Mayes’ arrival in Jefferson City, everything was in order for Nadal to schedule a testing date. Within an hour of delivering the paperwork, Nadal learned she’d take the test on May 19, just days before shipping out.

Nadal’s arrival to STLCC was because of the military as well. After she signed up for the Army, she was attached to a unit based in St. Charles. Living in Nashville at the time, she didn’t want to make the drive to St. Louis once a month and figured it would be easier to relocate.

Nursing pinning at Forest ParkAlready a Licensed Practicing Nurse in the Army, Nadal wanted to become a registered nurse to have more skills that would help her in the military setting. She will be working in an intensive care unit at a hospital in Kuwait.

She chose STLCC-Forest Park mainly because it’s about a mile away from her home. What she found at the school, going through the LPN bridge program, made her realize it was a great choice.

“The instructors at Forest Park are really great,” she said. “They’re very knowledgeable. I learned a lot from them. Everyone has been very supportive.”

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