As a pediatric charge nurse in the emergency room at Medical City Dallas Hospital, Lana Cooper oversees the nursing staff in the department and handles patient assessment, administer medications and coordinates care for patients, as well as and set monthly education meetings for the Pediatric Emergency Department Council.

(Photo Courtesy of Lana Cooper)

(Photo Courtesy of Lana Cooper)

Originally considering becoming a medical doctor, Cooper went to the University of Michigan and studied science. She grew up around horses and considered becoming a veterinarian. She transferred to the Oklahoma State University and applied for veterinary school but was put on a wait list. She earned her bachelors degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Oklahoma State University.

She moved to Dallas and took a job in medical sales. “I liked being around people,” said Cooper. “When I had my first daughter, she was born with a heart defect. The nurses were great. I thought, this is what I need to be doing,” said Cooper.

Cooper decided to go return to school to become a nurse. She looked for a school that would offer some online courses. She was working full-time and juggling raising a family and needed a school that would offer flexibility. Cooper graduated from Dallas Nursing Institute with an associates’ degree in Nursing.

“In our field [health care] we [nurses] are always teaching. We are teaching other nurses and our patients. I am going back to school so I can keep on top of all of the changes and be able to teach people,” said Cooper.

Cooper is pursing her master’s degree in nursing at the University of Texas at Arlington. “I am taking one class at a time. I have two children and it is manageable. I have missed dinner parties and some date nights with my husband but the reward of personal achievement is worth it and my children understand the demands of homework.”

Cooper’s advice to those who are contemplating returning to school: “If you are not willing to advance your scope of knowledge then you won’t be marketable. There are times when it is frustrating but stick with it because the benefits far outweigh the little sacrifices you make.”

Robin D. Everson is a native Chicagoan who resides in Dallas, Texas. Her appreciation for art, food, wine, people and places has helped her become a well-respected journalist. A life-long lover of education, Robin seeks to learn and enlighten others about culture. You can find her work at