Angela Burge spent 21 years working as a Human Resources professional for several organizations, including the Cheyenne Regional health system. She enjoyed the work, especially when she got to coach people or successfully resolve conflicts.
But after caring for her mother, who battled cancer for several years, Angela knew it was time for a change.
“I saw the amazing difference you can make as a nurse and knew that is what I wanted to do,” she said.
It would be several years before Angela could make the transition. When she did, Cheyenne Regional stood by her.
“I don’t know too many places that would support a career change like that,” she said. “Cheyenne Regional offered me the flexibility I needed and complete tuition reimbursement. The only thing I had to pay for were scrubs, a stethoscope and a few other items. I don’t have any school loans. That is huge.”
Back to school
Angela returned to school in 2015, when she was 43.
“I had a bachelor’s degree in business management, but that didn’t require the science courses I needed to apply for nursing school,” she explained.
Angela took the courses online, while continuing to work full-time at Cheyenne Regional and care for her family, which included elementary-aged twin boys.
She entered nursing school at Laramie County Community College (LCCC) in the fall of 2017.
Trying to balance nursing school, work and home life “was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done,” she said.
Angela worked full-time in Human Resources at Cheyenne Regional during her first two semesters and part-time during the third semester.
“The Human Resources Department was willing to juggle things around to accommodate my school schedule, even knowing that they were going to lose me,” she said.
Angela was able to schedule her shifts around school, often working early mornings, evenings and weekends.
“I am so grateful that my supervisor allowed me to do that,” she said.
During her final semester, Angela was hired to work full-time as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) for Cheyenne Regional’s Surgical Unit.
That job also allowed her the shift flexibility she needed to attend classes and do the required clinical rotations for school. Plus it offered her the chance to start applying her nursing skills at work.
Angela was an LPN on the Surgical Unit for about seven months. She accepted a radiation therapy nursing position with the Cheyenne Regional Cancer Center about the time she graduated from LCCC. She has since passed the nursing board exams and is now a registered nurse.
‘It’s all about caring for our patients’
Since becoming a nurse at Cheyenne Regional, Angela has received two DAISY award nominations, one from a co-worker and another one from a patient. DAISY nominations are submitted for nurses who have provided exceptional care for their patients.
“This is kind of a validation of the whole journey I just went through, that I did the right thing,” Angela said, smiling.
“During school I didn’t always have time to do some of the things my boys wanted me to do,” Angela added. “When they would ask why, I told them that this is something that I really wanted to do and that in the long run, it would be good for all of us. I also wanted to show them that if you have a dream and are willing to make sacrifices and work hard, you can achieve that dream. No matter what stage of life you are in.”
Near the end of the conversation, Angela brings up her mother, who passed away from ovarian cancer after a four-year battle. Ultimately, it was her mom’s journey and courage that inspired Angela to start down this new path.
“I was such a girlie girl growing up,” Angela said. “My mom would have never believed that I would do something like this. But I know that she would be proud of me.”
Angela said she loves what she is doing now. “It’s all about the one-on-one time I get to spend caring for our patients. That is so rewarding. But I couldn’t have done it without the support of my husband, my boys and my dad. They all helped so much while I was in school. And Cheyenne Regional was there for me, too.”