50-year-old attends nursing school as local university encourages others to earn degrees

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – All across the country, people in the medical field say they need more nurses. Now, a local university has teamed up to encourage Hoosiers to pursue the nursing field no matter where they are in life.

Eric Withem is on the fast track to reach his true calling. At 50 years old, he decided he wanted to pursue a nursing career.

"I thought am I too old? I'm 50 years old it's like maybe I missed that opportunity but I just woke up every day and thought this isn't for me I can do more," Withem said.

The former owner of a construction company had a brain hemorrhage that put him in the intensive care unit for three weeks. And that experience with his nurses led him to what he never knew he was meant to do.

"When I was working and I just don't get the fulfillment out of the building anymore thinking about what I wanted to do I thought back to those people. They really meant the world to me at a time when my life was at rock bottom I thought if I could do that for one other person that would be fulfilling to me," Withem said.

So he signed up for Marian University's accelerated nursing program. It’s for people who already had a bachelor's degree in another field. The school is teaming up with St. Vincent Hospital to host a "Come Explore Nursing" event to encourage more people like Eric to explore new opportunities. With a growing shortage, nursing has become Indiana's most in-demand occupation.

"This event is a perfect opportunity for anyone interested in nursing. Regardless of the level. Whether you're a high school student trying to decide what you want to do in your first degree," Deb Downard with Marian University's nursing program said.

Set to graduate in December and enter the workforce in the pediatric unit, Eric says he's finally fulfilled.

"Every day it validates why this was the right thing to do I can't begin to tell you how wonderful it's been."

The "Come Explore Nursing event takes place Wednesday, August 30 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.  at St Vincent Hospital in the main lobby. This event is open to anyone interested in the nursing field.

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