For 20 years, living in a small town in West Virginia, Brittany Gum became the go-to person for a number of things, but especially when it came to health issues.
“Hospitals are miles away and we took care of our own. People knew that they could count on me to provide a ride to doctors’ appointments, help care for elderly neighbors in their homes, and even patch up minor injuries,” Gum shared.
This sense of caring and helping others led to a natural career pathway towards nursing but it wasn’t without its set of detours in life. Gum dropped out of high school and later earned her GED. A mother of four and grandmother of three, Gum made sacrifices for her family including making a move to Massillon, Ohio, to allow her son to enroll in a diesel mechanics training program.
Later, she was diagnosed with cancer and underwent treatments and faced other family-related challenges including a 22-year prison sentence for her husband and the death of family members.
“I’m an open book so I don’t mind saying that it was a lot, and it was a mess. But life happens and you can’t control what other people do,” offered Gum. “We were without a breadwinner so I took the first job that was offered to me. I started in the laundry of a long-term care facility but eventually, I earned certification to be a State Tested Nurse Aide (STNA) so I was able to help care for our clients. Because I wanted job security and needed to earn more money to provide for my family as a single mother, I decided to pursue a career as a Licensed Nurse Practitioner (LPN).”
She enrolled in the Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) program at Portage Lakes Career Center in Uniontown, Ohio.
“I was happy to learn that the cost of PLCC’s LPN program included everything I’d need, from start to finish,” she said. “I chose to enroll in the 16-month part-time LPN program so I could have some flexibility with family and work obligations. While in school, I was still able to keep my job at the long-term care facility, working two 12-hour shifts a week. It’s a big sacrifice to study to be a nurse while working and being a single mom. You do what you have to do, and I did plenty of studying in the car while my daughter was at cheer practice.”
She graduated from the program in November 2021 and was given a job offer. Even though she graduated, Portage Lakes Career Center continued to provide her support in preparation for her NCLEX exam, which is part of the state’s nursing licensure requirements.
“I was so proud of myself for graduating from PLCC’s practical nursing program. It was a good feeling to know that my children saw my commitment to my career and our family, and they’d witnessed the hard work that I’d put in to make it happen,” she offered.