The Making of a Nurse: How Showing Livestock Impacted a Nursing Student

Did you know that there is a huge shortage in nurses throughout the USA? According to the American Nurses Association there will be a need for 3.44 million nurses by 2022 which is a 20.2 percent increase in RNs. In other words, there will be a need for 1.13 million additional nurses.

That is a staggering number, but there are those who are seeking to fill those positions. Meet Megan Lawing. She is a nursing student at Gardner-Webb University. She is also a N.C. State Fair Livestock Scholarship recipient.

Megan grew up showing sheep for 15 years and showed pigs for two years. Through her experiences showing at the N.C. State Fair, she has been able to prepare for nursing school. The two major skills that showing livestock taught her was responsibility and time management. Both of these skills are vital in college.

“Because I learned responsibility early, I now know how to keep up with assignments, be on time for class, and have my projects done on time,” said Megan.

With multiple classes and many assignments, time management is crucial to success in much the same way that managing time with livestock is also important to success.

“When I was raising sheep, I got up early and went to the barn, came home from school, did homework, took care of my sheep and got them ready for the show ring. If I hadn’t managed my time, I could not be successful in the show ring,” said Megan.

While her dad helped her learn these lessons early on with her sheep, in college, Megan is on her own. She is responsible for planning ahead and scheduling her time. There is much to juggle, but the lessons she learned from showing help her succeed in college and reach her goals.

Speaking of goals, Megan’s are to earn her BSN and work in Pediatrics, Neonatal, or Labor and Delivery. She also wants to continue her education and earn her Master of Science in Nursing as well.

Megan’s desire to be a nurse in a way comes from raising and showing livestock.

“I have a strong desire to help others. I have always been the person that is willing to help anyone in any way that I can. Whether it was a younger showman who wanted a few new pointers or a friend who just needed a friend. I wanted to be there,” said Megan.

She chose neonatal/labor and delivery because she wants to be a part of the beginning of life. This goes back to Megan raising lambs on her family farm. Lambing time was her favorite!

“Not just because the babies were cute and fun to snuggle with– which they were, but, being able to witness the miracle of life being brought into the world was absolutely amazing and beautiful. I have always known that this was the stage of life I was meant to work with,” said Megan.

While livestock is important to Megan and helped shape who she is, it is perhaps the people that impacted her the most.

“I loved being part of the wonderful livestock-showing community. I have many memories and proud experiences because I grew up in such a caring community,” said Megan.

Now that she has aged out of showing livestock, Megan has turned more of her attention from caring for sheep to caring for people as a nurse…well, classes first.

And that is exactly what Megan is focusing on—classes.

“Being in one of the hardest programs at Gardner Webb means that I have to put all of my focus and time on my studies. My priority is doing my best in my classes,” said Megan.

Megan has learned that nursing classes are a bit different then regular college classes. There is an added pressure to not just learn the material, but to retain it. As a future nurse, you can’t just memorize the information for a test and forget about it. You have to retain that information for the sake of future patients. Megan is all too aware of this. There will come a time when she isn’t working with the plastic patients, but real-life ones.

Megan will graduate in 2020 with her Associate of Science in nursing and 2021 with her BSN. She is taking the hard work and responsibility she learned with showing livestock and applying it to her program. She knows that much like in the show ring, there is really only one chance in nursing school to do well.

In the middle of a semester, Megan is eye-ball deep in classes and assignments, but we have full-confidence that in a few years, she will be a great nurse. If the love and care she put into her lambs is any indication, there will be many moms and babies happy to have Megan as a nurse.


About Marisa Linton See

Marisa grew up showing and raising livestock in NC. She has shown animals at the N.C. State Fair for 15 years and is a past youth livestock scholarship recipient. She is an N.C. State University graduate, agricultural photographer and blogger.

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