For many people, identifying the career where they’ll feel most fulfilled is hard, difficult work. Others may never necessarily discover their vocation—their job is just a job. For some people, though, the work to which they are called is evident from the beginning. Dr. Pricilla Wyatt is one of those people. Learn how this professor went from following her mother’s footsteps as a working nurse to managing the RN to BSN track at ACU Online.
A Calling from Childhood
Pricilla grew up in Brownwood, a small Texan town in the northern hill country named after Lake Brownwood to its west. In this idyllic environment, her upbringing was heavily impacted by her mother’s career. Her family lived in front of an assisted living home, where Wyatt’s mother served as a geriatric nurse. As early as she could remember, Pricilla followed her mom to work, tagging along to help her make rounds and visit the patients.
Through this very direct exposure to the nursing field growing up, Pricilla discovered a deep calling that would sustain her into the future. Already from a young age, she knew she wanted to be a nurse like her mother. The only question remaining was where she would pursue this dream. This question was soon answered when a recruiter from Abilene Christian University visited her church youth group. Along with one of her friends, Pricilla decided to move an hour northwest to Abilene where they embarked on their freshman year.
Unsurprisingly, Dr. Wyatt chose to pursue her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). As part of her clinical rotations, Pricilla began working in the Hendrick Health System of hospitals in Abilene in 1998. After graduating with her BSN in 2000, she remained in Abilene at Hendricks and began a career working in cardiac nursing that would last 18 years. ACU’s nursing program had equipped Dr. Wyatt for a fulfilling career—but she didn’t realize what an important role she would eventually play in this program’s future.
Several years later, ACU had begun embarking on big plans to expand their nursing program. And as an alumni with substantial experience in cardiac nursing, Pricilla was contacted by one of the program directors. ACU was opening its first on-campus School of Nursing, and the director wanted to know if Pricilla would be interested in helping set up a simulation lab and serving as an instructor for undergraduate students. Dr. Wyatt immediately and excitedly accepted.
Accelerating Her Career
From the moment she became a Clinical Instructor in ACU’s School of Nursing, Pricilla “got the bug with teaching.” She thinks back fondly on her early days of teaching. She initially started as a clinical teaching student (CTS), which was a prerequisite requirement for a nurse who wanted to enter into academia. As a CTS, she helped first-year nursing students in the lab and “showed them the ropes.” Pricilla remarked that she was “always the one they’d put with the new placements.” She thinks that she was chosen to be with the newer nursing students because she’d been “blessed with so much knowledge and patience” and she had (and has) a deep desire for “treating all my students with hospitality.”
Pricilla’s always wanted to make the process of learning an enjoyable and enriching experience for her students. She “loved seeing students connecting the dots with coursework and field work” and realized how deeply she felt drawn to teaching. Dr. Wyatt wanted to take her experience and passion for nursing from the hospital and offer it to students in the classroom.
With firm knowledge that she wanted to lean into teaching more, Pricilla enrolled in the online master’s in nursing education program at The University of Texas at Arlington in 2014, just a year after starting as a CTS on ACU’s campus. She moved quickly through the program—still working as a cardiac nurse at Hendricks and teaching part-time for ACU—and graduated in 2016. At that point, Dr. Wyatt left the cardiac field after 16 years and began teaching full-time in ACU’s School of Nursing.
For the next three years, Pricilla honed her craft in the classroom, serving as an assistant professor in the rapidly growing and innovative nursing program. But she didn’t want to stop there. In 2019, she decided to pursue her Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) at ACU Online to elevate her teaching and academic career. In December 2021, Dr. Wyatt finished this program, earning her DNP and achieving the highest degree possible for a nurse.
Stepping into the Future
In early 2022, the dean of the nursing school asked Dr. Wyatt to assume a new role as track manager for the RN to BSN program. Pricilla happily accepted; after all, her philosophy is “never say no, because you never know what opportunities will come your way.” The program’s first semester with her as track manager launched on August 23, 2022.
Talking about the future, Pricilla enthuses that she’s “very excited.” Being able to offer her 22 years of nursing experience to students is the dream of a lifetime. And, considering she got two of her three degrees online, Dr. Wyatt says, “I think online education is a brilliant idea.” Working nurses can be extremely “constrained” in pursuing higher education, as they’re often “working 12-hour shifts, raising a family, and pursuing a career,” so an online program “is a wonderful opportunity for working nurses to continue their education.”
Pricilla’s particularly thrilled to see a new generation of such tech-savvy nurses rising up, and “loves that ACU Online is geared towards working professionals.” She’s structured our RN to BSN program for these types of students, who already have their clinical components out of the way and “shouldn’t have to stop their life to get a degree.” Looking ahead to her future, Pricilla would love to develop the RN to BSN track to be just as successful as the DNP program that equipped her with her degree. She wants to get involved in other aspects of the School of Nursing, like the Pre-Nursing Track and BSN to DNP Program, to help the overall enrollment growth at ACU Online.
Pricilla’s personal and family life is as invested in ACU as her professional life is. The Wyatts deeply “believe in ACU” and Pricilla loves that she’s gotten to work here since 2013. The family lives in Abilene, and her husband works as the Director of Business Intelligence for the main campus. Her two teenage boys love basketball and are looking forward to trying out for ACU’s team someday. When asked how she feels about teaching and her career after all these years, she smiles: “I guess you’d say it was a calling.”
Want to discover your calling alongside committed faculty like Dr. Wyatt? Visit acu.edu/online or contact us at 855-219-7300 to learn more about our nursing programs.