STEPHENVILLE, Texas — Most people have been forced to change their daily lives due to the coronavirus and the ensuing stay-at-home orders. Tarleton State University grad student Le’Shawn Palmer has seen shifts in two major areas.


As an emergency room nurse, the influx of patients has been stressful. As a student in the nursing master’s program, he has to balance that stress with the workload of online classes.


“It’s a beast,” he said of his schedule, “but I’m doing things I love.”


He and the other Tarleton nursing students, faculty and staff are celebrating Nurses Appreciation Week May 6-12, highlighted by National Nurses Day on Wednesday.


Le’Shawn was drawn to nursing as he helped care for an ailing family member.


“My great-grandmother got sick,” he said. “Taking care of her and seeing all the interaction with the nurses that helped made me want to do that.


“It’s a compassion thing. Yes, we do a lot, but it’s the personal connections you make with patients, with people. You get emotionally tied to them, and it’s very rewarding.”


He attended Fort Worth’s Texas Academy of Biomedical Sciences and was part of the school’s first graduating class. Even before that, he had already chosen Tarleton for his education.


“In seventh grade I visited Tarleton for the first time for the Science Olympiad. From the moment I walked onto campus, I knew this was the school I wanted to go to. I didn’t want to go anywhere else.”


On campus, Le’Shawn was active in the Student Nursing Association, a residential leader, he mentored incoming nursing students, and he joined Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. And he graduated cum laude.


“Tarleton allowed me to be confident in my abilities,” he said. “I feel like they prepared me to be confident in my thought process, in owning my practice, in being able to approach anyone in any situation, speaking up for what I think is right, and to grow as an individual.”


When he decided to pursue a master’s degree, he applied to several schools and was accepted to all of them.


“Tarleton was my safety net, my comfort zone. That’s where I knew I had people I could depend on. I have my professors’ and the undergraduate dean’s phone numbers, and I knew I could call, email or text them. I depend on them, to this day, not just for things involving my education, but for things in my life.”


Recently, Le’Shawn’s employer, Medical Center Arlington, has begun testing for the coronavirus.


“Things have started to pick up in our department, and my skills have started to be tested,” he said. “Covid-19 has changed the atmosphere of our hospital. We never know what to expect when we come in, but we learn to embrace the crazy.”


He wants to use his master’s degree to share the lessons he has learned at Tarleton and on the front lines of the pandemic with future generations of healthcare workers.


“One of my professors got me involved as a supplemental instructor,” he said. “I really enjoyed teaching my classmates about anatomy and physiology. I like nursing, and I like teaching. This way I get the best of both worlds.”


Le’Shawn plans to graduate with his MSN in December.


Until then he will continue his “beast” of a schedule.


“I’m getting used to it a little now,” he said, “but I pray we get some normalcy soon.”


Nursing presents a strong career option in healthcare, combining high demand with numerous paths for specialization and career growth. Tarleton State University offers undergraduate and graduate nursing programs designed for individuals at different levels and interests.


For more information on Tarleton’s School of Nursing, go to www.tarleton.edu/nursing.