Roy Coutts calls it "a sign of changing times."
Until this year, only women had been honored as student of the year by the Licensed Practical Nurses Association of Florida, a 43-year-old organization.
"I just didn't think a man was going to get it (the award)," said Coutts. But, based on an interview, a letter of recommendation from the Pasco School of Nursing and an essay he wrote titled Visions of Practical Nursing in the Year 2010, Coutts did get the award. He also is the first student from the nursing school, at the Schwettman Adult Education Center in New Port Richey, to get the award.
For his efforts, Coutts got a medallion and an engraved plaque at the nurses convention several weeks ago in St. Petersburg. Seventeen nursing schools statewide were represented.
"His essay was very impressive," said his teacher, Rosalie Hollingsworth, R. N.
Coutts' predictions include a world of computer-literate nurses, increased use of artificial organs and a shift in the focus of health care to prevention of disease rather than its treatment.
Coutts will complete the Practical Nursing Program in January, and take the state board exams in April. "Then I plan to go for my R.N. (registered nurse)"
When not in the classroom, Coutts does clinical training at the Bear Creek Nursing Facility in Hudson, where he is working on geriatric case studies.
"It's different (geriatric care) _ I wasn't used to it," he says. "But you learn something new every day." He also holds a part-time job at HCA Bayonet Point/Hudson Medical Center, where he works nights on the cardiac care floor. "I want to go into cardiac nursing," Coutts says. "It's exciting, and I like working under pressure."
In his spare time, Coutts likes to play hockey and spend time with his wife, Becky, who recently passed the state boards for practical nursing.
Coutts has a word of advice for those planning on a career in nursing. He writes in his essay that "nurses must be intelligent, compassionate, sensitive and have a genuine desire to serve."
Because practical nurses spend so much time with the patient, he says: "If you go into nursing, it has to be something you like. If you go into it (nursing) with the idea of just making money, you're not going to last very long."