Reprinted with permission by The Cullman Times
There’s a sort of positive feedback loop between the Wallace State Nursing program and its lengthy list of successful graduates, and no one epitomizes it better than Hanceville’s Jamie Hammock.
A 1990 graduate of Wallace State’s Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) program, Hammock continues to enjoy a long career that’s taken him, one stepping stone at a time, from Wallace State’s most basic point of entry into the profession all the way to an advanced degree, a management role at UAB, and student mentorship.
In return, Wallace State’s reputation for producing capable and compassionate nurses continues to grow, as graduates like Hammock serve as beacons for the Nursing program in their professional roles.
“I can honestly say that Wallace State prepared me for more than a career,” says Hammock. “It prepared me for a life. When I walked in to Wallace State Community College at 19 years old, I was a longhaired, snotty-nosed, cocky little kid — and they beat submission into me, and I mean that in a very positive way.
“The Nursing program — both the LPN and associate degree programs — are very evidence-based and very factual. But it’s also very psychosocial in the sense that they teach you to grow up and see the value in what you do: that those are patients in the bed, and not a side of beef. They make you take accountability for what you’re doing, and I think a lot of nursing programs don’t do that anymore.”
That patient-focused point of view is enormously important in a leadership role like Hammock’s. For the past two years, he’s managed the nursing team on the neurosciences floor at UAB, stepping into a role he’d first viewed as an assistant manager for nearly two decades.
“If you’ve had brain or back surgery, head trauma, complex intercranial surgeries and so on, mine is the floor that you come to,” he explains. Hammock also leads the vascular access team at UAB, which is responsible for delicate IV insertion procedures when conventional ones won’t do.
Using that first LPN certification at Wallace State as a springboard, Hammock went on to pick up his RN certification through the school’s associate degree program, eventually working his way through a master’s degree in Health Care Quality Safety, which he’s currently finishing at UAB. He says students who start out at Wallace State can end up anywhere their heart and ambition take them.
“What I think Wallace State really teaches you is that a patient is a person; not a number. What the LPN program taught me was phenomenal in that sense; I was just amazed at the level of knowledge the instructors had and the dedication they had — and the same applies for the associates’ degree program. They want you to care about patients as people — and they genuinely want you to succeed.”