Profile on Paden Shaffer 

By Melinda (Ablard ’90) Smith

July 25, 2014
Paden Shaffericon

A passion for nursing runs in Paden Shaffer’s family.

His mom and two older sisters are nurses, and now Shaffer, a student in MidAmerica Nazarene University’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in nursing (ABSN) program, is on course to join their ranks.

“Witnessing their accomplishments and the enjoyment they receive with their rewarding career choice, I cannot wait to achieve my goal of becoming a nurse also,” says Shaffer, who entered the ABSN program with a degree in biology from Pittsburg State University.

Although he is passionate about pursuing a career in nursing, his decision has not been without sacrifice. During the one-year program at MNU, which meets most week days, Shaffer has been living in the Kansas City area and commuting home to Pittsburg, Kan., on the weekends to spend time with his wife and their young sons.

“It is only a year but just these past few months have seemed longer than a year,” Shaffer says. “I feel I am missing out on a lot with my children only being 2 years old and 8 months old, as they seem to have accomplished different milestones in development every week since I've been gone.”

The loss of income from Shaffer not being able to work during school, and the significant cost of commuting—especially with rising gas prices—has been financially difficult.

Fortunately, he was selected to receive a one-time $10,000 scholarship from MNU through a grant by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: New Careers in Nursing Program. The scholarship is awarded to select ABSN applicants who are from a population underrepresented in the nursing field, traditionally men and minorities, or who have significant financial need.

The scholarship program also encourages recipients to continue their education beyond the bachelor’s degree, which fits with Shaffer’s plan to move back home after graduating from MNU and apply to Pittsburg State’s Nurse Practitioner (NP) program.

Despite the sacrifices Shaffer and his family have made for him to attend MNU, he keeps looking to his goals, which he fine-tuned while working as a phlebotomy coordinator for Via-Christi Hospital in Pittsburg. There he scheduled staff and oversaw the testing and billing requirements for special tests that the hospital was not equipped to handle on-site.

“I have always known that I wanted to work in healthcare as an NP or physician’s assistant; it just took me a little while to decide which career path I wanted,” Shaffer says. “Working in a hospital fresh out of school really helped me decide which profession I enjoyed the most. During this experience, I found myself wanting to learn and do more to help the patients I served, along with earning better wages for my family.”

Eventually, Shaffer would like to work either in an emergency room setting or in a cardiovascular unit and from there pursue a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP).

“I believe nursing is a wonderful and rewarding career that needs more people with the desire to heal,” he says. “People build this profession, not the other way.”

MidAmerica Nazarene University has received the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: New Careers in Nursing (RWJF NCIN) grant the past six years and uses the money to fund Accelerated Bachelor of Science in nursing scholarships. Over the years, the school has awarded 45 NCIN scholarships. The goal of the RWJF grant is to help alleviate the nursing shortage, to diversify the workplace and to bolster faculty and leadership.