Healthcare Spotlight: O’Bryant uses practical experience to educate nursing students

Nicole O’Bryant (second from left) is now using her nursing background to teach students at Louisiana Tech.

By Kelsey Horath

After 31 years of practicing as a registered nurse, Nicole O’Bryant has returned to the classroom to share her knowledge and skills with the next generation of nurses.    

O’Bryant received her undergraduate Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from Northeast Louisiana University (now known as University Louisiana at Monroe) in 1991. The decision to pursue this degree began long before her college years.

“My mother was diagnosed with cancer when I was 12 years old, and she passed away when I was 14,” O’Bryant said. “From that experience, I always knew I wanted to help others.”

After many years of working in direct patient care, O’Bryant wanted to further her education in healthcare. However, she was always held back by the thoughts of why she shouldn’t and couldn’t do it.

“I always thought I would be in direct patient care working at the company that I had been at for 25 years, but I had always wanted to go back to school,” O’Bryant said. “I was needing a change around the same time that ULM began its graduate nursing program. I was encouraged by my husband and others to take the chance, so I did.”

In 2021, O’Bryant earned her degree in Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Louisiana at Monroe.

Though O’Bryant always had a passion for healthcare, her passion for educating in the field came later.

“I took a job in the education department within the company I was working for,” O’Bryant said. “In that job, I was responsible for training nurses and techs for their positions within the company.”

O’Bryant fell in love with education during her time in that position.

“When working in the education department, just seeing the ‘lightbulb’ come on in a new staff members face when they understood something that I was trying to teach to them, made me feel like I was making a difference,” said O’Bryant.

O’Bryant now uses this newfound passion for education to train Louisiana Tech University nursing students during clinicals.

“Due to my health, I am unable to work full time anymore,” O’Bryant said. “A friend who was at the Tech program knew of my situation, and I was offered an adjunct position in the nursing department with clinical students.”

Watching students learn the fundamentals of nursing care and the excitement they experience is contagious to O’Bryant.

“I get to work with students in their very first quarters in the professional nursing program,” O’Bryant said. “These students get so excited to just be in scrubs and in the hospital.”

Seeing the difference these students make in their patients’ lives, even in a short amount of time, is so special to O’Bryant making her job much more than just that.

“It is my mission, my God-given purpose,” O’Bryant said. “I want to show every student and every patient that they matter and how they feel matters.”