Life experiences can influence a student’s academic aspirations, a premise that Dallas Gibson, a Gladwin native, can attest to as he prepares to graduate cum laude from Ferris State University’s College of Health Professions with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
“Observing what went on as my grandfather was treated for a heart condition, going in and out of different care facilities, that proved to be a strong motivation for my efforts in higher education,” Gibson said. “I began my Pre-Med studies at a college in Cleveland, Ohio, and found, over time, that I had more concerns about my direction, in terms of my place in the caregiving process than having feelings of hope and confidence by following that charge.”
When an opportunity presented itself, Gibson was ready.
“I saw an opportunity in nursing as that place where I could make a hands-on contribution to the care and healing of others, so I pursued my options in that field,” he said. “I was very encouraged by the feelings I had about the structure of Ferris’ program and am thankful that I made this decision and selection.”
Gibson came back to Michigan and Ferris as an upperclassman and spent his first year preparing to apply to the Nursing program. He acknowledged he is part of an under-represented male population enrolled in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, believing he and his four peers are helping to dismiss a long-held stereotype.
“Gender considerations that people presume, whether it is from history, media or other influences, are not really accurate,” Gibson said. “We can give care and consideration to our patients, just as anyone with a desire to serve as a nurse can do. It is especially clear after completing my clinical rotation that becoming a nurse will allow me to make the contributions and feel the personal rewards that I have sought.”
To limit his collegiate debt, Dallas has held off-campus jobs that claim his weekends. Still, he believes he enters his professional life with a better understanding of a work-life balance thanks to putting in those hours on the job.
“It is definitely a challenge, balancing work schedules and requirements with my studies, but I was always able to get into a groove and work past any limitations,” Gibson said. “I was always focused on my studies, proud to be a member of the Sigma Tau Theta nursing honor society, in the Kappa Epsilon chapter for West Michigan nursing programs. I am proud of my semesters on the Dean’s List and my Sigma Tau Theta and Honors cords that I will wear, for commencement. It is also important to take care of yourself, so I was mindful of that component of being successful and made sure that I was healthy and happy, as I worked toward my degree.”
Like peers across the country, Ferris students experienced significant changes in Spring 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Gibson said virtual instruction is far from his favorite learning mode, but he accepted and met that challenge.
“Zoom sessions were definitely impactful on our curriculum,” Gibson said. “I was able to set my frustrations aside and steel myself to pursue and complete my assignments for those online classes. It helped me to realize how much I love nursing. As I made my way through the clinical rotations, I itched to be more involved in offering patient care, beyond learning from the observations that we gain as students.”
Gibson said his clinical rotations offered him great opportunities in experiential learning. However, it was a significant effort to travel with others to the Grand Rapids area for stints in the Progressive Care and Critical Care wards of Spectrum Health-Butterworth.
“I was intrigued by my grandfather’s care when he required this level of assistance,” Dallas said. “I went into the rotation wanting to learn all I could about this kind of treatment and was thankful that what I hoped to pursue professionally was all that I believed it would be.”
The professionals in that ward found themselves impressed with Gibson’s interest and abilities.
“I had a conversation with a nurse-manager in the Clinical Advanced Cardio-Pulmonary department, where I received direction to apply for an open position,” Gibson said. “It was a successful application and interview process, and I am proud to say I am joining the Spectrum Health-Butterworth nursing staff in July.”
His small-town upbringing and collegiate experience, including his time in clinical rotation, find him comfortable with the challenge and anxious to settle in and learn more about his new home.
“I am excited to be returning to a larger city, to enjoy what it can offer in terms of learning, culture and enjoyment,” Gibson said. “I have been a big fan of museums for a long time, so I am very looking forward to all that Grand Rapids can offer me.”
Gibson also reflected on his move from Gladwin, where his adoptive mother gave up her career position at Dow Chemical Company to become a substitute teacher, which gave her greater opportunity to raise her family. He expressed appreciation for her sacrifices and those he made to pursue his dream and begin his professional life in the healthcare field.
“It is a different feeling, to complete my studies and focus on the patients who will be in our care, at the Meijer Heart Center,” Gibson said. “I am planning to live alone in Grand Rapids, which will very much suit my lifestyle. I wish I had met and gotten to know more of my Nursing classmates, heading out to start their careers. There are certainly many options to pursue in the healthcare industry, even with a bachelor’s degree. I can’t wait for this next chapter to begin.”