Up in the air

Up in the air

ShandsCair nurse has unwavering ambition

 By Mina Radman

Photo by Jesse S. Jones

Staccie Allen, B.S.N., EMT-P, C.F.R.N., discovered her passion for nursing by chance.

Allen, a student in the Doctor of Nursing Practice program, graduated from UF in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. She had been working as a patient care representative at Shands at Alachua General Hospital when she realized she belonged on the other side of the hospital’s staff.

“I really respected all of the people I worked with and liked what I was doing on the business side but realized nursing was my calling,” said Allen, 35.

She received her emergency medical technician certification from Santa Fe College. While working as an EMT, Allen found her dream job.

“On a Saturday night, I had two people from ShandsCair come pick up a critically ill patient,” Allen said. “I knew when they came in that day and left with the patient that that was what I wanted to do.”

With that goal in mind, Allen attended nursing school at UF in 2001 and graduated in 2003. After graduation, she spent time working as a part-time paramedic and a full-time nurse in the emergency department at Shands at UF. In 2005, she was hired at ShandsCair and received her dream job as program director in 2011.

“It’s a position I never thought I’d be in,” she said.

With her original goal accomplished, Allen’s desire to accelerate her career led her back to graduate school to pursue a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, the highest level of clinical education in the field of nursing.

“I’d like to be an expert in nursing,” Allen said. “A lot of opportunity comes with that level of education and allows me to give back to the community.”

The road to success has been difficult. But financial help from the UF College of Nursing helped relieve financial stress on her family.

“So many nurses can’t stop working full-time so they can go back to school or they may have already started a family,” she said. “It’s a blessing to have people out there willing to support people like me.”

Allen’s supportive family includes her husband, Christopher, also a nurse at Shands at UF, daughters, 3-year-old Camden and 1-year-old Tristyn, and stepsons, 18-year-old Todd and 17-year-old Blake.

After graduation, Allen plans to continue working with ShandsCair. The rest is unknown.

“I’m doing something that I would have thought was a dream job 10 years ago,” she said. “I have a lot of opportunity ahead of me and I’ll decide soon where I want to focus my attention and career.”