Nursing school: 90 percent of nursing students stay in Ark.

While most students are on summer break, one class is just starting, training the next wave of medical professionals.

Monday was the first day of classes at Baptist Health's Registered Nursing program.

Some are back in the classroom after only a few months. Others have spent years waiting to pursue their dream.

"My kids are out of the house, except for one, and I'm ready to get my career and get my life going," said Tammy Smith, who has worked in daycare for the last 21 years.

Now, Smith is taking the leap into nursing with Baptist Health's 2-year program.

"I have kids, I've worked in daycare, so I have a lot of sick kids and I know that sometimes they say that there weren't enough nurses on staff," Smith noted.

That need for nurses is seen around the country and lends to a secure job future.

"Especially in this economy, I wanted to make sure I had a job that would guarantee me somewhere to work," said John Cain.

Cain grew up around the medical field, with his mom working at a hospital. It's something he's known he wanted to do from a young age.

"She told me this morning she was proud of me which made my day and made it so much more comfortable for me," Cain said.

For others like Peyton Olmsted, it was a natural progression.

"I've been a lifeguard for the last five years and I really liked helping people, especially the medical side of it," Olmsted said. "I decided to take it a step further and go into nursing."

"Definitely looked at how many nurses were needed around the state and the country and apparently it's very needed," said Melissa Fernandez.

Fernandez says her desire to work in the medical field began in high school. Now, the current patient information assistant at Arkansas Children's Hospital is taking it one step further, filling a special need for bilingual nurses.

"This is what I want to do, it's like a passion," Fernandez said. "I just love the whole healing part of it and being able to help people."

Baptist Health's Assistant Vice President of Education, Judy Pile, said the job placement rate is over 95 percent, and added 90 percent of the students will stay in the state.

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