Lori Kirkland is an inspiration to everyone who wanted to become a nurse, but for some reason never had the opportunity. Or, for those who decided later in life that nursing was their true calling.

Lori never considered nursing as a career field. She had the highest respect for nurses and the profession, but just didn’t think it was for her. After her father was placed in an assisted living facility, Lori became his primary caregiver. She spent many days with him and saw firsthand how the facilities operated. She gained first-hand knowledge of the care that was provided.

It was during this period that her friend, who is a nurse, suggested she go to school and become a nurse.  Lori remembers thinking that our “aging population could benefit from compassionate and understanding nurses.”

In 2010, eight months after losing her father, and at age 50, Lori started on her pre-requisite course work at a local state college. Once those were complete, she applied for the nursing program and was told it was a three year wait. Undaunted, she looked at other options and eventually applied to Keiser University.

She earned her diploma and started her new career as a patient care tech. She worked in a local hospital on the geriatric floor and in the emergency department. This work confirmed her decision to pursue nursing. “I wanted to be able to extend the love and kindness I have in my heart by taking care of people in their time of need. This became my priority,” she said.

Lori juggled work, school, and life graduating in 2017 with her Associate of Science in Nursing degree (ASN) and started her new career as an RN. She is currently completing her bachelors program at Keiser University in Florida. All in all, it took her seven years to complete her studies.

As a graduate nurse Lori chose to work on a Medical/Telemetry floor at Florida Hospital’s east campus in Orlando, Florida. Except for the 18 months she spent in the emergency department, Lori has always worked with older patients.

There were many times when Lori wondered if what she was doing was right.  She said that she prayed about it and struggled. But, she put one foot in front of the other and stayed true to herself and her commitment.  She says, “God has always answered my prayers and put me in the right place at the right time.  I am definitely where I am supposed to be.”

Lessons from Lori

Lori’s journey was not without surprises. She learned exactly how important the role of a nurse is. “The fact that we are all leaders, advocates, teachers, researchers, etc., gives us a very unique opportunity in the care of our patients,” she comments. “There is so much a nurse is responsible for and so much that we can teach our patients when it comes to taking care of themselves.”

Lori isn’t certain what will come after she completes her BSN degree, but she says nursing has already changed her life. “I find myself always wanting to help someone or teach them something about taking care of themselves,” she said. “I only wish I had done this sooner.”

Lori shared that her family and friends are very proud of her, especially for someone her age to have pursued such a career.  Her FB_IMG_1505692902488son is also very proud of her and always tells his friends about her. She recalled how she responded to a post on a Facebook page just after she graduated. She posted her picture and story, and more than 18,000 people responded. Most of them were about how she had inspired them to start or continue their careers as a nurse.

Advice for Others

Lori’s advice to others is to “Give God the reins, believe in yourself, and never give up! I truly believe that I have been led by God down this path and everything that has happened in my life up to this point has been because this is where he wants me to be.” She adds, “I am so blessed to be in a position in my life where I believe I am right where I belong. I work with an amazing team at the hospital and have been completely accepted, treated with respect, and supported every step of the way.

~Michael and Frida Donner