GODFREY – Some people know what they want to do from a young age. Others, like Lewis and Clark Community College Nursing graduate Christopher Elam, are guided by circumstance.
Elam, who graduated with his Associate in Applied Science in Nursing this spring and earned the Nursing Leadership Award, graduated from Edwardsville High School in 2004. After spending several years working in retail management, he decided to pursue a nursing degree.
“The reason I decided to go back to school was because we unexpectedly lost my mom to a medical accident,” Elam said. “I started questioning what happened. I also started self-reflecting on what type of impact I was having on the world. I no longer had a sense of fulfillment in my career and wanted to do something in which I could positively impact people’s lives.”
The decision to attend L&C was an easy one for Elam. Not only is the school affordable and close to home, it’s also where his wife earned her nursing degree.
The Nursing program’s instructors made a particularly good impression on Elam.
“The best part of the Nursing program at L&C is the passion the professors have for nursing,” he said. “They are truly proud of the nurses graduating from the program and want us all to be successful. L&C graduates are sought out by area hospitals and have a strong reputation of being excellent nurses.”
While Elam, who is president of both the Nursing Club and the Alpha Delta Nu Nursing Honor Society, credits the efforts of the entire Nursing faculty, one professor stood out.
“If I had to narrow it down to one professor, I would have to say Rodney White has had the biggest impact on my career at L&C,” he said. “He has not only helped develop me in the classroom, but also in the clinical environment. He helped me secure a job at OSF St. Anthony’s Health Center in the ICU as an RN after passing boards.”
White has the same regard for Elam.
“Chris was a very dedicated and focused student who excels in academics as well as clinical patient care,” White said. “I expect Chris to continue to grow and excel as a nurse and be a great representative of the high caliber nursing students we attempt to produce.”
Among Elam’s favorite memories at L&C are those which helped him bond with his classmates.
“During my first semester, practicing nursing skills in the labs, we were all green and had never put on sterile gloves, performed injections, IV skills, indwelling catheters, sterile dressing changes or tracheostomy care before,” he said. “It took a lot of practice and time in the lab honing our skills, but my classmates made it fun and memorable.”
Many of those classmates worked alongside Elam as they administered COVID-19 vaccines during clinics held on campus by the Madison County Public Health Department.
“We administered the vaccine to healthcare students and faculty, as well as Campus Safety personnel and, eventually, the public,” Elam said. “My fellow nursing students and I were able to demonstrate our skills and education we received from L&C.”
Elam’s ability to relate to patients is part of what makes him a good nurse.
“It was an honor to be able to serve my fellow students, faculty and community,” he said. “So many have lost a loved one to COVID-19, including myself. You could sense the happiness, hope and excitement from the people receiving the vaccine. There really isn’t a greater feeling than knowing you can have that kind of impact on someone’s life.”
Elam also expressed appreciation for the atmosphere on campus.
“The campus is beautiful. The nursing, math and science buildings are all state of the art,” he said. “The classrooms are equipped with everything the students need to be successful. There is a sense of community on campus where everyone is friendly and engaged, whether they’re a security guard or Dean of a program.”
Elam’s experience at L&C is just the beginning. He has big plans for his education and career in health care.
“My short-term educational goals are completing my BSN degree at a local university through an RN to BSN program,” he said, “My long-term goal is to pursue my master’s and gain enough experience in the field to feel comfortable in returning to the classroom to teach.”
For more information on the L&C Nursing program, contact Enrollment Services at (618) 468-2222 or visit www.lc.edu/nursing.