“When you’re a nurse you know that every day you touch a life and a life touches you.” Registered nurse and Ranch resident Barbara Schmidt shared the inspirational and oftentimes funny story of her nursing career from student to educator with the Kiwanis Club at its May 20 meeting. Drawing on her extensive experience in administration, education and clinical practice, Barbara’s gift of storytelling entertained and captivated the club to both the drama and humor found in her professional practice.
Barbara earned a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from TWU in 1972. After graduation she worked as a clinical nurse in the E.R. and labor and delivery. Loving the teaching side of nursing, she dreamed of a master’s degree. But lack of money was an obstacle. She joined the Air Force during the Vietnam war and was stationed at Shepherd Air Force Base. There she met and married her husband, also an Air Force nurse. After two years she separated from the military when she became pregnant.
With her husband still in the service, they were transferred to Montgomery, Alabama in the 1970s, a tumultuous time with George Wallace as governor. Initially Barbara returned to work at a hospital staffed exclusively by and servicing only African Americans. But she didn’t feel the full impact of prejudicial hate until working at a “whites only” Catholic hospital. Treating walkers from the Selma to Montgomery March, including Martin Luther King, the hospital afterward was shunned and the staff walked out. Barbara remained the only RN in the entire hospital. Facing this challenge she recruited a Director of Nursing and other RNs and soon started a prenatal care program.
Eventually Barbara earned a Masters of Science degree in nursing from Troy State University in Alabama. Thereafter she held positions as Director of Maternal Child Health and Nurse Educator at Baptist School of Nursing in San Antonio, Tarleton State University in Stevenville and Del Mar College in Corpus Christi. Forever loving hands-on nursing, Barbara also worked as a clinical nurse during the summer months, keeping her skills current and never forgetting the realities of working at the bedside.
While at Del Mar her faculty group was awarded a $5 million grant by the Department of Education to develop a seamless online nursing curriculum accessible to those students unable to attend a traditional nursing program and those wanting to advance from an Associate to Bachelor nursing degree.
Most nurses don’t choose their careers because of great hours, pay and working conditions. And Barbara reminds us why she entered the profession and why she stayed. She is a powerhouse of energy, wisdom, empowerment, humor and solid content, showing us the power of nurses and how an individual and a profession can make a difference in people’s lives. You too can make a difference in people’s lives. Come visit the Kiwanis Club RR on the first and third Friday of each month at 8:30 a.m. in the Clubhouse. For more information contact Barbara Leurig at email@example.com.