Piedmont Athens Nursing Student Plans Career Dedicated to Helping Others Feel Safe, Supported
A few years ago, Piedmont Athens student Trent Parks had a surgery, became ill, and missed several weeks of school.
He fully recovered, but his ordeal forever changed the course of his life. Now, Parks is studying nursing at Piedmont University’s Athens campus.
“Because of the nurses who helped me, I knew there was always someone in my corner,” he said. “They inspired me to do the same, to make a difference for someone else.”
Parks, a junior who lives in Auburn, Georgia, had long considered a career in healthcare.
“My dad is a paramedic, and my mom is a pharmacist. Growing up, I always heard stories of the differences they make in people’s lives, how they are there for people in their darkest times,” he said.
“I knew I wanted to do something similar.”
Parks began his college career as a pre-pharmacy major at the University of North Georgia.
“But I found that pharmacy wasn’t for me. It wasn’t my favorite thing. I decided to give back to something that had been so influential to me, and that was nursing.”
Parks took a semester off from school as the pandemic took hold in 2020, and then he decided to transfer to Piedmont Athens. He’d heard good things about Piedmont from friends who’d attended, and from the get-go, it was a good fit for him, too.
Piedmont staff members were attentive and approachable during the application process, and the relationships he’s built with his professors have been crucial to his success.
“Nursing is a very challenging program. The professors are our friends, not just our professors,” he said.
“They’re always open to questions and respond to emails. There’s no such thing as a dumb question here.”
Parks said his relationship with Nursing Professor Dr. Jamie Johnson-Huff has been one of the most influential of his college career. He recalled recently walking into her office, with no set appointment, seeking help preparing for a skills check in his Fundamentals of Nursing class.
“I always seek comfort from Dr. Huff. I sat down with her and she talked me through the whole thing. She helped me understand what I needed to do and how I needed to allocate my time,” he said.
“I just knocked on her door and she spent an hour with me.”
In addition to the relationships he has with Piedmont faculty members, Parks also appreciates the classmates he’s gotten to know in the nursing program.
“Some of the other students are 19 or 20, some are moms in their mid-40s. I do believe that being in such a melting pot helps my education. I’m able to immerse myself in in their worlds and cultures, gain different outlooks on healthcare and become more culturally competent,” he said.
Attending the Athens campus allows him to enjoy the benefits of a small university as well as the lifestyle of a college town.
“I get to know the professors and the people in my program, but I also get to enjoy all the food, activities, and history in Athens,” he said.
Parks is on track to graduate in 2023. He’s planning a career as a travel nurse specializing in the emergency or operating room, but he’s also interested in continuing his career to become a nurse anesthetist.
Wherever his career leads him, Parks knows exactly the kind of care he will deliver to his patients.
“I want to give my patients that warm feeling and be easy for them to communicate with,” he said.
“If there’s something wrong, something hurting, or something embarrassing going on, I want them to feel comfortable describing the problem to me so that we can fix it.”