For Beth Mettes, happiness is found in the country, with fresh air, plenty of acreage and beloved animals surrounding her. A circulating nurse in the operating room of University Hospital’s Level 1 Trauma Center, she lives on a farm in northeast Missouri with her husband, Tyler; two Labrador retrievers; goats; horses; chickens; and a wild bunch of barn cats.
“Until a recent tragedy, we had a wonderful pet bull named Franklin who thought he was a dog and was always on our Christmas card,” she adds. “I love spending time outdoors, riding or grooming horses, hunting, gardening, water skiing or driving around in my Jeep with the top and doors off.”
Although Beth, who earned her BSN from Blessing-Rieman College of Nursing in Quincy, Illinois, commutes to Columbia for work from her home in Macon, Missouri, she was searching for a graduate nursing program she could complete from home on her days off. And thanks to the Doctor of Nursing Practice program at MU’s Sinclair School of Nursing, she’s found that living and serving the community she loves while pursuing graduate education are in no way mutually exclusive.
“I was impressed with the idea of an online program that I could complete from home,” she says. “When I started looking at options, the prestige of the Mizzou name was appealing. I chose the DNP program because MU no longer offers a master’s program for nurse practitioners, and I decided that if I was going to jump in, I better jump in the deep end and just go all the way.”
Balance and goals
There’s serenity to Beth’s life on the farm that helps balance her nursing job at MU, where her 12-hour shifts begin bright and early at 6:30 a.m.
“I am blessed to be involved in a variety of cases within the operating room,” she says. “Each day is a surprise when I get to work. I might be doing an ear/nose/throat case, orthopedic (bone) case, neurology (brain or spine) case, abdominal case, gynecological case or urology case.”
For Beth, it’s the variety of procedures and various surgeons that keep her job interesting.
“On rare occasions, I am honored to be involved in organ donation cases where I have cried while watching the miracle of life unfold before my eyes,” she says. “The life-saving trauma surgeries we do are always fast-paced and challenging. I recently participated in a living donor kidney transplant. That means we were in one OR receiving the kidney of the patient next door who donated their kidney to a family member. I love getting to be part of cases like these.”
In addition to her full-time nursing job in the operating room, last spring Beth took a second job as a mental health clinical instructor for SSON undergraduate nursing students.
“Before the operating room, I was a charge nurse in the psychiatric ER,” she says. “I missed the patients at the psychiatric hospital and wanted to share with nursing students that mental health nursing isn’t like the movies and is not as scary as it sounds. I hope to recruit a few of them to become mental health nurses.”
Because of the flexibility of the DNP program, Beth’s graduate courses have fit seamlessly into an already-full schedule. And although the days can be long with so much to juggle, Beth says the online capabilities of the program have proved invaluable in allowing her not only to achieve her goals but also to connect with a variety of instructors with diverse backgrounds and specialties.
“The way the program is designed, you can access your class anywhere you have internet access,” Beth says. “Additionally, the online program allows SSON to employ the best of the best when it comes to instructors. … We had a well-known pediatric ER CNS teaching our pediatric class from St. Louis, we have an exceptional FNP who works full time in an urgent care in Jefferson City sharing her immeasurable wisdom about assessment and diagnostic skills, our mental health leaders are well-known mental health nurse practitioners from St. Louis and my personal mentor is an FNP who practices in Kansas City. She is three hours away from me, yet I’ve learned more than I could ever imagine from her.”
Return to rural
With her May 2018 graduation date quickly approaching, Beth is preparing to transition to being a nurse practitioner, providing primary care for patients of all ages. Demand for nurses with her qualifications is high, particularly in rural settings.
“As I get closer to graduation, I am discussing opportunities with a private practice within my community,” she says. “I hope to work with that collaborating physician, but we have discussed the idea of a satellite clinic in a neighboring town. This community has so many people who could benefit from a primary health care provider. I have a special spot in my heart for the farmers of my community. I would be honored to provide them with resources to remain healthy through preventative health and routine management.”
For Beth, serving the needs of her small town is about more than just providing health care — it’s about continuing her family’s long line of service and giving back to the community that raised her. Beth’s mother provided for the family and community by selling crop insurance to local farmers, and her father, a rural electric cooperative’s lead lineman, provides electricity to the community.
“I want to be part of continuing to provide much-needed services to our area by returning to the region as a nurse practitioner,” Beth says. “There is a need for providers to fill a service in rural areas, and because I grew up appreciating a rustic life, I am incredibly interesting in the peacefulness of remaining in the rural environment. There is an unexplainable calmness of sitting by a fire and listening to the crickets and coyotes.
“The quietness and fresh air of the country is calming and peaceful,” she continues. “I would never want to give that up.”
Click here for more on the Sinclair School of Nursing’s DNP program, including entry pathways and areas of study.