Former ACTC maintenance technician graduates from LPN program | ACTC

Former ACTC maintenance technician graduates from LPN program

Aug. 8, 2020

A man in blue scrubs and a white lab coat smiling

After more than a decade working in the maintenance and operations department at Ashland Community and Technical College, Terry Burton hung up his tool belt and put on scrubs.

Burton was admitted to ACTC’s Licensed Practical Nursing program in August of 2019 and recently completed the 11-month program, having no previous experience in the medical field. 

But what he did have was a drive to show his daughters that anything is possible if you put your mind to it.

“Anybody that has ever said nursing is easy, they are either a genius or a liar,” Burton laughed. “It’s a challenge. It’s a lot to learn. You’re taking care of people, so you really have their life in your hands. It has to be that hard because not just anybody needs to be out there taking care of people.”

The 35-year-old Argillite resident said he had always had an interest in the medical field and looked up to those who followed that career pathway. 

“I never thought I would be able to do it, but here I am,” he said. “I made it.”

Burton, a 2003 graduate of Greenup County High School, began working at ACTC as a maintenance technician in 2008 after earning a diploma in the Industrial Maintenance Technology program. He eventually earned his associate degree in Industrial Maintenance after coworkers encouraged him to take advantage of the employee tuition waiver.

“I loved it here,” Burton said of his time working at the college. “It wasn’t a constant break-your-back job, but it was steady work and it kept you thinking. And it was one big family. It was really nice.”

Making the transition from maintenance to nursing wasn’t easy, and required more work than just showing up for class. 

“I knew very, very little about nursing, other than basic CPR,” Burton said. “When I went into it, all the terminology, the skills, the procedures, everything was just Greek to me. And I had to cram and learn and study.”
He also said the instructors in the program were more than helpful to him and his classmates. 

“I know that each one of them is highly dedicated to each student,” he said. “They don’t just encourage you, but they give you 110% of their time. If you need them, they are there for you. They want you to be successful, which is key for any instructor.”

During the 11-month program, Burton was able to do clinicals at a number of medical facilities in the Tri-State, he said, including Mildred Mitchell-Bateman Hospital, Kingsbrook Lifecare Center and King’s Daughters. During their rotations, students in the program get to practice hands-on skills, patient assessments and medicine administration.

Due to COVID-19, the last two semesters of the program were completed entirely online, using modules for patient scenarios and video conferences with instructors. 

Program coordinator Terri Ratliff said the 2020 practical nursing class faced more challenges as a group than any other class she has seen in her 10 years of teaching in the program.

“They were the largest class we have had in those 10 years (44 students) and they completed the last two semesters of the program 100% online,” Ratliff said. “Doing so required them to be patient, flexible and willing to work with the team of faculty as they transitioned instruction of lab, clinical and lectures to an online format. Being patient, flexible and a good team player are qualities required of all nurses, so we think overcoming these obstacles will only make them stronger in their nursing careers.”

Ratliff said Burton’s passion for helping others was apparent during his time as a student. “Having that desire to be at the bedside helping other people gave him the motivation necessary to really study and work hard to learn nursing and learn it well,” she said. “He will be an amazing nurse because of that passion and because he was very disciplined and determined while in this program.”

Despite the unexpected challenges that arose due to the pandemic, Burton has graduated and is now studying hard for the National Council Licensure Examination for Licensed Practical Nurses. Once officially licensed, he’ll begin the job hunt. 
He said he was nervous, but something Ratliff had all his classmates think about at the beginning of the program has stuck with him. 

“She had us all figure out what our “why” was,” he said. “Why are we wanting to be a nurse? And she said anytime you have a doubt, or anytime you are struggling, look at your “why” and keep on pushing on.”
Burton’s “why” is his children. Two daughters, one 14 and one 18.

“I want to show them you can do anything you put your mind to. You can follow your dreams.”