Anna Carol Ptacin’s nursing career has come full-circle, returning to the University of South Carolina Salkehatchie in 2023 as a nursing instructor for its Rural Nursing Initiative Partnership with the University of South Carolina Beaufort. After earning her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the partnership program with USC Columbia, Anna started her career as a nurse in the progressive care unit at St. Francis Hospital where she worked for six years. In 2021, she decided to try something new and joined the Roper Berkeley Emergency Department as an ER nurse.
Anna says she has always gravitated towards helping nursing students and recent graduates, so her role as a preceptor for the hospital was a perfect fit. “I found myself often helping nursing students and new nurses feel supported and welcomed when they entered the real world of nursing, which can sometimes be a harsh transition. Since I found such joy in that area, I wondered if I might be able to transition that to having more of a role in the didactic and clinical education of nursing students,” she says. When she was given the opportunity to return to USC Salkehatchie as an instructor for the nursing partnership with USC Beaufort, she took it. But, Anna hasn’t left the field. She still works in the ER on weekend shifts when she is not teaching.
Anna is grateful for the opportunities that the Rural Nursing Initiative at USC Salkehatchie provided her, including the ability to stay close to home while in school. The affordable tuition, scholarships and the ability to work locally made it possible for her to graduate without student debt. It also enabled her to pursue a career she loves.
“What I do makes a positive difference in the world, even if only for a few people at a time. I can make a difference for patients and families in a moment when they are at their lowest. I feel that it gives my work meaning,” Anna says. “I also love getting to know my patients and hearing their stories. It is eye-opening and makes you grateful for the simple things in life.”