When the time came for Cranesville, Pa., native Heather Bowers to choose a career path, the decision was easy. Nursing emerged as the ideal blend of her greatest passions – science and helping others. 


“I love biology, anatomy, physiology and everything in the science realm, and I love helping people,” she said. “Nursing is the perfect mesh of those two worlds, and I'm really glad I chose it, because I've loved every second of the experience so far.” 


And for Bowers, who graduated in May with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a minor in biology, choosing to attend PennWest Edinboro was even easier. 


“Edinboro has an amazing nursing program, and I wanted something that was both affordable and close to my family,” she said. “It was kind of a no-brainer.” 


Bowers, filled with first-year jitters, found the rigors of nursing school to be much more challenging. But she soon found a tight-knit community of student nurses and faculty who were eager to lend a hand. 


“There's a lot of pressure, and everyone has very high expectations. The amount of information we must learn in four years can be daunting,” said Bowers, now a registered nurse at UPMC Hamot in Erie, Pa. “It was really, really hard at the beginning, but I had upperclassmen who were willing to help me and guide me. The professors are amazing. They're willing to sit down with you and make accommodations that will help you get through it in any way, shape or form.” 


Inspired by her own mentorship experiences, Bowers served as a tutor for other students in the department who needed assistance with coursework or advice on developing study habits. She was also a scholar in the Honors College and a member of Student Nurses of Edinboro – a group of nursing students who organize career-building opportunities and give back to the community through volunteer events. 


“You know, it is hard. The long nights of studying can be brutal,” Bowers said. “But if you love something, then you just have to persevere. Because at the end of the day, the people that we help and the lives that we get to save are 110% worth it.”  


Pennsylvania is in desperate need of qualified nurses, now and into the future.  


The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment of registered nurses will grow 12 percent from now until 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations. Growth will occur due to an increased emphasis on preventive care; increasing rates of chronic conditions, such as diabetes and obesity; and demand for health care services from the baby-boom population, as this group leads longer and more active lives. 


PennWest's career-ladder approach prepares the highest quality professional nurses at the baccalaureate, master's and doctoral levels to meet the local and global holistic health care needs of individuals, families and communities.