Community College of Rhode Island

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Electrician chooses new health care career path

May 10, 2013

Carrieann Best Carrieann Best

Carrieann Best never expected to be a nurse, but she turned a family tragedy into an opportunity to help others. When her mother had a brain aneurysm in 2010, Best was exposed to many health care professionals and was impressed by what she saw. She decided to become a nurse, which had always been her mother’s dream.

Before that, Best, 37, was employed as an electrician in the Boston area. She worked everywhere from new suburban middle schools to the heights of the city’s historic skyscrapers.

“I loved it,” she said. “It was a great job.”

Best thought she would be an electrician for the rest of her working life but her mother’s illness changed everything. Her mother, Kathleen Doran, spent a month in the intensive care unit at Beth Israel Hospital after the aneurysm. Best and her sisters hardly left their mother’s side.

Best saw many nurses during this time and she learned how important they are to patients and their families in helping them cope with tragedy. She said the nurses also brought comfort to her mother, who was unable to speak.

“It was amazing how they could identify her pain without her communicating,” Best said. “It just opened up my eyes. … That’s when I had a life-changing moment.”

Doran had always wanted to be a nurse. She had taken some classes in a nursing program but was unable to finish because of her family commitments. Following Doran’s death, Best decided to live her mother’s dream.

“It was my promise to her and I found that I enjoyed helping people out,” she said. “I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would.”

Best grew up in Plymouth, Mass., but moved to Cranston in 2008 to live with her partner. Her newfound proximity to CCRI was part of what made it a good choice for her when she decided to go to nursing school. She started at CCRI as a part-time student in 2010, taking prerequisite courses for the Nursing program while working as a home caregiver.

Best took it slow at first because she had been out of school for 13 years. She entered the Nursing program in the Fall 2011 semester and transitioned to being a full-time student. She is graduating with a 3.45 GPA.

“It took a lot of sacrifice and buckling down and getting myself on a schedule,” Best said. “I’m very thankful for the opportunity to be here [at CCRI.]”

Best said the nursing program was tough but that her professors helped her through it. “They were all great,” she said. “I don’t want to single anyone out.”

Although the Nursing program is demanding, Best said it has prepared her well. “The program has been good to me,” she said. “You learn a lot and you see a lot of great things. I saw a baby born recently. ... Nursing is a great career.”

To other adults pondering a return to college, Best said: “Don’t even think about it. Just jump. It will give you so much confidence. I’m a different person now.”

Best hopes to work in hospice care someday but will be happy to start work in any nursing discipline for now.

“I never thought I would be a nurse,” she said. “I already had a career I loved, but life brings you in funny directions.”


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Last Updated: 1/31/14