Kelsey Agre, RN at UAMS, is what you might call an old soul. Or at least, that’s where her calling as a nurse has drawn her, ever since nursing sparked her imagination around the age of 8.
“My specialty is adult geriatric acute care nurse practitioner,” said the Hot Springs native who’s a few months shy of her Master’s. “I particularly enjoy the elderly populations; they’re sweet and they’re appreciative, they’re very appreciative of any help. They love to talk and they love to interact and socialize with us.”
Barely 29, Agre’s heart and head combined on her choice of specialty. In addition to her fondness for the older set, she’s also savvy enough to know a growth area when she sees one, given the millions of Baby Boomers who are entering their golden years. Still, success in any area of nursing comes down to more than a simple business decision.
“Geriatric medicine, you definitely have to have a passion for it, which a lot of nurses do,” she said. “Nursing is always short no matter what, but especially with the Baby Boomers getting older there’s huge room for growth.”
Agre’s decision to pursue a higher degree from UAMS – the same school where she got her bachelor’s – was rooted in a desire to be able to serve her patients to the highest degree possible. Nurse practitioners have more autonomy than other classifications, including the ability to diagnose and treat patients, order, perform and interpret the results of diagnostic tests and even write prescriptions within certain guidelines.
“At first I wanted to be a RN and do critical care,” she said. “And then I figured out (nurse practitioner) gave me more possibilities and autonomy and independence. Being able to have that and the ability to see my own patients and build a strong rapport with them is important to me.”
Deciding on a higher degree isn’t the only surprise that the nursing profession has dished out to Agre along the way. She said she views her profession totally differently today than she did on her first day of nursing school.
“When I was younger I pictured just being really hands-on and getting to think critically and I would learn to adapt to high-stress situations, which I thought would be beneficial in life in general,” she said. “I didn’t know what I was getting into. Nursing is raw and unedited and I didn’t know that it is as emotional and as human as it is.
“As nursing students we know a lot of numbers and we know a lot of labs and treatments and medications, but it’s even more than that. It’s human. I mean, we always call them our patients, but they’re not a patient, they’re a person and they have their own thoughts and families and stories. I’d say to get to be a critical care nurse and a bedside nurse is a privilege. The honor that we get is to be there for the patient and support them whether it’s their brightest moments or their darkest moments.”