Ashley Planalp: “At LBCC, there is a lot of support”
After two years of working in the intensive care unit (ICU) at Albany General Hospital, Ashley Planalp recently began a new position in ambulatory surgery. “I did what needed to be done when COVID was in full swing,” she said. “Now I’m ready for an easier schedule.”
Ashley graduated from LBCC in 2020—at the height of the pandemic—and went to work as one of Oregon’s newest registered nurses. The LBCC Foundation helped her get there.
“In all honesty, nursing programs are really hard. There are a lot of challenges, but at LBCC there is also a lot of support,” said Ashley.
“I had a car accident before one of my tests. The program reached out to help me apply for a scholarship from the LBCC Foundation’s Olive Bridge Fund. They paid for the whole thing, including my $1000 deductible! I was shocked by the assistance, and really impressed.”
Ashley wasn’t the only nursing student who received funding. She and other students received assistance from the Boone Scholarship to help with licensing fees and other expenses at the end the nursing program.
Ashley took an indirect route to nursing. After completing a bachelor’s degree in service management and then having a change of heart, Ashley thought she would become a chiropractor. Her first pregnancy upended those plans. School was off the table at the time.
Later, a friend suggested nursing as a career.
Ashley was familiar with healthcare as a profession – she had worked as a certified nursing assistant during college. Preparation for chiropractic school meant she already had completed numerous science courses and other prerequisites. Still, the idea was intimidating.
“I wasn’t sure I was smart enough to do it, but of course I was. I didn’t know much about nursing as a profession,” Ashley said.
She learned very quickly, under the most trying of circumstances.
“One of the best things about the LBCC Nursing Program is how much experience you get as you work toward your practicum. We didn’t get to do a practicum, and our learning was online,” she described. “Everyone adapted. It was the same for everyone across the education system as they were all figuring out how to do emergency education.”
Ashley felt that piece missing when she began in the ICU. “There were always five different things to do, and they all needed to be done now. It was hard. But when I look back, I realize how fast I learned.
The LB Nursing Program had taught her to be flexible. “We learned it throughout the program,” she said, “and it serves you in the long run.”
Even now, hospitals are still catching up. “There’s a backlog of everything,” said Ashley. “People had put off routine health maintenance and now they’re coming in sicker than ever.”
Regardless, Ashley is happy she chose nursing. “It’s the biggest payoff for two years of school. There’s so much you can do as a nurse, so many jobs. It’s also the most trusted profession ... and it has been for decades,” said Ashley.
After what has happened over the past two years, it will probably remain so for the foreseeable future. And the LBCC Foundation will continue to support those who choose it as a profession.