words + photographs AMBER ENNIS
Looking back over my life, I can see God’s hand guiding me to where I am today, but I never would have thought in a million years I would be a nurse, nurse practitioner or an instructor.
As a child/teenager I always wanted to be a scientist. I started at Kansas University studying microbiology with an emphasis in virology. I received an amazing opportunity in the middle of college to work as a veterinary tech for the army in Italy. I lived in Italy for three years while continuing my studies.
Then something unexpected happened.
My mom was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. I came back home to Missouri to help her through her treatments. It was during this time I saw just how completely amazing the nurses were to my mom. I felt God tugging on my heart to drop everything and go to nursing school. I was so close to graduating with my microbiology degree; I kept saying, “This can’t be what you want, God. I’ve put all this time and effort into becoming a scientist.” He just kept putting it on my heart I needed to be a nurse.
I learned so much during that time about how precious life is and how special it is to be able to help people during the hardest time in their lives.
I officially moved back to Missouri and enrolled in nursing school. I received my associates of science degree in nursing as a registered nurse two years later. The next semester, I graduated with a bachelor of science degree in nursing, and — wouldn’t you know it — I started working as an oncology nurse right out of school. I learned so much during that time about how precious life is and how special it is to be able to help people during the hardest time in their lives. To top it off, my mom has been cancer-free for 10 years.
Two years later, I again felt God tugging on my heart with the idea of becoming a nurse practitioner. I had said to so many people I did not want to be a nurse practitioner because it was way too much responsibility. One day as I was praying about it, I felt God say to me, “If not you, then who should have this responsibility?”
I said, “OK, Lord, if this is your will for my life, then I will apply to one school and if I get in, then I’ll do it.”
I got in.
I completed a four-year program in which I received my doctoral degree. In the midst of the program, I decided to take some extra courses and also received my minor in nursing education. I had never taught prior and honestly wasn’t interested in teaching. However, an opportunity opened up at a local community college in the RN program and they reached out to me about teaching in it. What a leap of faith it was on both our parts. I met some of the most amazing nurse educators who helped mentor me as I learned to be an instructor. It was one of these mentors who recommended me for my current job with Herzing University.
Little did I know my husband and I would eventually have a child with special needs who would require a lot of therapies and care. Working in a fully online program has allowed me to have the flexibility I need in order to take the best care of our son. God had this plan all along, fully knowing someday I would need a nontraditional job to fulfill my calling not only as a nurse practitioner, but also as a mom.
MY BIGGEST TAKEAWAYS
- Just say yes when you hear God calling. He knows the big picture and the plans he has for you. We may only learn the purpose in hindsight. But if you never say yes, then you’ll never know.
- Be like Dory in Finding Nemo and “just keep swimming.” I constantly had to tell myself, “just keep swimming.” through nursing school and nurse practitioner school. Take it a day at a time and keep moving forward. One day you will be amazed at how far you have come.
- Lastly, if God has brought you to it, he will bring you through it.
It is such an amazing honor to be part of people’s journeys in achieving their dreams of being nurses and/or nurse practitioners. I absolutely love teaching. I’m so thankful God guided my path, and I eventually said, “Yes,” when he called me to it. AE
Amber Ennis is a follower of Christ, wife to Casey, mother to a daughter and son, who has special needs. She is also a family nurse practitioner who teaches online at Herzing University. Amber and her family live in Nixa, Missouri.
COVER: Amber Ennis with her husband, Casey, and their two children.
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