Registered nurse on the front lines against COVID-19 got her start at SBCC

Kaitlin Shipley always knew she wanted to work in the healthcare field. After working as a medical assistant for several years after high school, she enrolled in the nursing program at Santa Barbara City College, graduating in 2019 with an associate degree in nursing. Fast forward less than one year, Kaitlin finds herself donning protective gear to enter the isolation room at Lompoc Valley Medical Center as one of the local heroes in the battle against COVID-19.

In the acute hospital, on the medical/surgical floor, there are 40 beds to serve a diverse patient population. When COVID-19 hit Lompoc, a part of that floor was sectioned off solely for COVID-19 patients in order to isolate them. Nurses caring for those patients remain in that unit, whereas the nurses caring for the other patients remain with that population. Kaitlin is one of the nurses in the isolation unit.

“Although this has been one of the most emotional and exhausting times in my life, I feel proud to be fighting this alongside my fellow nurses, medical professionals and hospital staff,” said Kaitlin in a recent interview.

She credits SBCC for providing her with “excellent clinical instruction,” noting that
although it is an emotionally challenging time for healthcare workers around the world, it is what they trained for. “It is satisfying to help people who need us the most right now.”

In addition to the challenges, she describes moments of joy.

“I became a nurse because I wanted to do something in my career that is challenging, interesting and patient focused. I feel the greatest sense of fulfillment by improving someone’s day and making them feel cared for. Being amongst my fellow nurses and working as a team makes me realize I am part of something important; especially in times like these. I am extremely proud to be a nurse and am grateful to be in this profession.”

Among the pieces of advice she would give future graduates of the SBCC nursing program, Kaitlin offered these tips:

  • Take as many opportunities as possible to improve your skills and don’t be afraid to speak up.
  • When you have time off, do something you love and take care of yourself.
  • Lastly, always remember why you became a nurse in the first place: to be there for the patient.
SBCC’s Registered Nursing program is approved and accredited by the California State Board of Registered Nursing (B.R.N.) and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). For more information about the program go to:
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