From Horses to Humans: My Unconventional Path to Nursing

I never imagined how particular moments in my life would bring me to where I am today. I remember wanting to be a veterinary technician — essentially an animal nurse — all through high school. I even shadowed a vet tech back then. But life took me in a different direction.

Julie Adkins, RN

At the end of my senior year of high school, I decided to get married and raise a family. Five years later, my young son, Brandon, was run over by a tractor at the horse barn I was managing.

Once the tractor was removed, the farrier and I were able to get him to the emergency room — it was taking too long for the fire department to arrive. Brandon’s injuries were extensive — a crushed lung, broken ribs, and torn liver. After being stabilized, he was transferred to a trauma center where he was rushed into surgery.

For three days, the doctors were not sure he would make it, but then he started to improve. The doctors said he would be in intensive care for at least two months. But miraculously, he was able to walk out of the hospital eight days after the accident.

After Brandon’s recovery, I spent a lot of time thinking about how responding quickly to emergencies is so important. The whole ordeal with my son led me to consider becoming an emergency medical technician (EMT). But pursuing that path would have to wait. I still had three little ones to raise and an acreage to look after.

Vet tech here I come

Thirteen years after graduating from high school, I began studying to become a vet tech. After so many years away from school, I was back in class with 30 other new students. Two years later, it was time to graduate, and the 30 students had dwindled down to just seven graduates.

After a couple of years of working as a vet tech, we moved to our forever home on 28 acres, and I got my chance to become an EMT. I joined the local McClelland Volunteer Fire Department and completed my training, but I didn’t stop there. I also became a firefighter!

Being a new EMT was intense, but exciting. Making new friends and joining a family of first responders was a great honor, and learning the ropes was incredible.

You cannot prepare yourself for every situation, but you go to each emergency call concentrating on how you can help when you arrive.

The worst call I went on was a house fire. Several departments responded. When we arrived, we found out an elderly woman was still in the house. Unfortunately, our efforts went from a rescue to a recovery.

It takes time to deal with some of the things we see, but doing what we love and having a great support system helps.

Sometimes there are funny moments. One night, I rode my motorcycle to the fire department after a bike event in town. As soon as I arrived, we were called to a multivehicle collision with …read more

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