Student Spotlight: Brandy Bachtel and Hannah Miller

Graceland nursing students Brandy Bachtel and Hannah Miller

Brandy Bachtel ’18 always knew she wanted to go into the health care field, but she didn’t know exactly where she wanted to focus. After high school, tragedy hit. She lost her dad and made the decision to spend a year with her mom, helping her through the transition.

Life continued, and she met her husband and had two beautiful children. “When I was pregnant with my daughter, the nurses were so helpful, and the care they gave me was inspiring,” shared Brandy. “I knew I wanted to go back to school and become a nurse. I realized how personable it is and how much you get to spend time with people. You get to care for the patient as a whole rather than just treat their medical diagnosis.”

When her daughter started kindergarten, Brandy took some prerequisite science courses from Truman State University. “When I started looking at nursing schools, my advisor at the community college told me about Graceland. I loved that it was an accelerated program at a faith-based school and not a huge campus. When I went to the interview, I knew I didn’t want to apply anywhere else.”

Brandy’s favorite class is pharmacology, and she really felt a connection with her professor, Sharon Little-Stoetzel. “I’ve always loved chemistry, and I thought I’d be a good pharmacist, but you don’t really get a whole lot of time with people, and I crave that,” explained Brandy. “Later, I would like to get my doctorate and become a nurse anesthetist.”

Talking with people, connecting on a therapeutic level is her forte. She just finished a four-week mental health clinical experience at Research Medical Center in Kansas City. “It was such an amazing experience. Not ever being in the health care field, starting off in psych was great because I got to figure out how to make that therapeutic communication with patients. It was once a week for 10 hours; we were in different parts of the hospital every week. I found my niche talking with people in those therapeutic conversations.”

Brandy plans to travel with the Graceland nursing group to Guatemala next summer, adding another experiential learning opportunity to her skillset. Professor Sharon Little-Stoezel has participated in the trips to Guatemala for several years, cementing the connections between Graceland and the people who live there. The experience has made a difference in the lives of Graceland nurses and hundreds of people in Guatemala and has become a valuable connection for Graceland’s nursing program.

While searching on the internet for nursing schools, Hannah Miller ’18 asked a friend about Graceland who said it was “a great program that was intense.” That sounded just right for Hannah, who shared that Graceland’s nursing school is perfect for people who are ready to focus. “There’s no time to be lazy or undecided; it is intense and fast paced.”

It’s great for people who want to graduate and be a nurse, which was appealing to Hannah. “I want to get right into the career.” Hannah’s original plan was to be a doctor, but she really wanted to have more time actually caring for patients. “I definitely knew I wanted to take care of people, so I went to UMKC for three years and took all my prerequisite classes. I was ready to get into something specific.”

I’m in a sorority at UMKC, and I’ve already recommended Graceland to the undergraduates, especially if they live in the KC area. Why would you go anywhere else? There’s so many great things about Graceland – the staff, the fact that the campus is small and it just feels like the whole place is ours. The staff is so focused on us, we feel pampered, and we have support in so many places. I can’t see myself being anywhere else, and I tell everyone that!

I’ve had a great experience in the nursing school so far. I’m so much more focused in the classes because they’re especially concentrated as opposed to the less specific prerequisite classes. Learning the skills, learning what to do and seeing how to be a nurse – I’m so excited to be in nursing school.

When asked about a favorite class, Hannah said she really likes her fundamentals class because “it is so hands on, and we are actually learning nursing skills as opposed to the theories and bookwork. Both are necessary, but I’m a hands-on learner.”

Favorite teacher? “They really are all great teachers,” she shared, but she listed her clinical instructor, Assistant Professor John Wood, as her current favorite. “We’ve been in the hospital clinicals together, and we’ve been able to sit and talk together about experiences that are real-life situations.”

Hannah shared that Clinical Fundamentals of Nursing teaches them how to put in catheters, how to give a shot and other needed nursing skills. A group of six nursing students go to CenterPoint Medical Center in Independence with Assistant Professor Wood once a week. “We are there for a 12-hour shift, just like the nurses working there. We get assigned a nurse and a patient for the day, we give them a head to toe assessment and then chart what we find. We create care plans for them, check diagnoses, learn their medications and why they’re taking them, and try to create nursing interventions to help them feel better while they are in the hospital,” explained Hannah.

Hannah hopes to work at a Kansas City area hospital for a while, then go back to school and become a nurse practitioner specializing in dermatology.

Graceland University’s nursing program has been providing the world with well-equipped nurses for generations.

Nursing is one of the Graceland majors that requires experiential learning; students are placed in hospitals to learn and experience the very jobs they’ll be doing after graduation.

Getting beyond the theory in classrooms and textbooks and into real-life situations provides students with critical thinking and psychomotor skills. Graceland graduates are highly regarded and sought by local health care facilities across the nation. There is an urgent need for nurses in our nation's health care system, and that need continues to grow. Graceland University School of Nursing offers the highest quality nursing education to prepare students to meet new and exciting roles in the health care field through experiential learning and an amazing academic program.

“Brandy is a very serious student and is always engaged in class. I really appreciate her work ethic, and she is a pleasure to have as a student. She is motivated and will make an excellent, caring nurse – one Graceland will be proud to graduate.”

- Sharon Little-Stoetzel, PhD
Associate Dean, Professor of Nursing

“A dedicated student, Hannah Miller will be the type of nurse that Graceland can be proud of. She cares for people and is determined to do her best.”

- John Wood, MSN
Assistant Professor of Nursing