Banks, Coxe and Doney at the Ralph A. Johnson Medical Center

The second fastest growing Veterans medical center in America is just a mile from The Citadel in Charleston, S.C.

Ralph H. Johnson Medical Center
Ralph H. Johnson Medical Center

Cherie Doney and Emily Banks, Citadel nursing students, work at the Ralph H. Johnson Medical Center helping care for patients like Jose Atkinson. He served in the Army and Marines for 18 years and comes for treatment from Georgia.

VA patient Jose Atkinson served in the military for 18 years
VA patient Jose Atkinson served in the military for 18 years

“The doctors and nurses here are top notch. They are also always kind and respectful,” Atkinson said.

A partnership between the VA and The Citadel means Banks and Doney can work as paid nursing assistants at the center, in addition to doing their clinical training there.

“We work in a constant state of assessment and readiness to make sure we are prepared to serve our rapidly expanding patient population,” said Nicole Coxe, the center’s chief of nursing education. “The Citadel’s new Swain Department of Nursing program is a perfect partnership for us,” Coxe said.

Banks, Coxe and Doney at the Ralph A. Johnson Medical Center
Banks, Coxe and Doney at the Ralph A. Johnson Medical Center

Doney is a veteran herself. “I love working with other veterans. Somehow they always manage a smile and seem to appreciate us so much.”

Students from a military setting, or who are veterans themselves, have a natural empathy for those who have served, according to Coxe. “It raises the caliber of care we can provide,” Coxe said.

Banks’ mom and sister are both nurses which helped lead her here.

Citadel nursing student Emily Banks visits with VA patient Jose Atkinson
Citadel nursing student Emily Banks visits with VA patient Jose Atkinson

“After trying a different career, I applied to nursing school at The Citadel realizing that I need to take care of people to feel fulfilled,” Banks said. “I am lucky because of an incredible connection between the Citadel and the VA.”

Doney, a wife and mother of two is proud to help patients who are veterans and hopes it sets a good example for her children.

“I know I’ll think back in ten years to the people I am learning from at the VA and at The Citadel and say wow those people made a massive difference in who I am today as a nurse.”

Banks and Doney speak with another nursing student at the VA
Banks and Doney speak with another nursing student at the VA

Banks and Doney will be among The Citadel’s first graduating class of evening undergraduate nurses in 2019.