College News

Great Bend native on path to become nurse practitioner; Barton Nursing Program priority application deadline is January 31

man in blue scrubs with arms crossed with barton flag in background
Barton Nursing Student takes a break from his final exams to pose for a photo on the Barton campus at the end of the semester.

December 6, 2023
Story and photo by Joe Vinduska

With a 19-month-old daughter at home, Registered Nurse (RN) classwork to do, and nursing shifts at The University of Kansas Health System Great Bend Campus to juggle, Barton Nursing student and licensed practical nurse Darien Sanchez is more than busy, but he knows it’s all worth it as he is well on his way to a lifelong career doing what he loves; helping people, especially local residents.

“I want to become a nurse to be able to help people during their most vulnerable times and help them feel comfortable and cared for,” he said. “My favorite part of the Barton Nursing program is being close to home and being able to provide care for communities around me.”

Sanchez said the Barton program prepared him for real-world applications by constantly supplementing what they learned in the classroom with highly detailed scenarios in Barton’s state-of-the-art nursing simulation labs, and opportunities to get experience in local clinical settings.

“Barton helped me get hands-on experience by utilizing lab simulations to interact with mannequins and prepare for real-world situations,” he said. “We also get to work with real patients by assisting nurses as they care for their patients as part of the clinical part of the program.”

While Sanchez said the lab simulations are extremely beneficial, he said the clinical work is vital to being ready to start working as a real nurse.

“The clinical sites have been great at showing me how different nurses use their expertise and how different facilities function,” he said. “I can see the different patients and their backgrounds. I have also learned how to use different equipment, which helps me be prepared in case I am in a new environment.”

While the theoretical and technical aspects of nursing are obviously the most essential elements of the program to ensure Sanchez is a competent, capable, and confident nurse, he said the social aspect of the program has been another fantastic benefit he hadn’t expected.

"I have been able to meet a lot of good friends since starting the program last year,” he said. “I have been able to grow alongside my classmates, and I have built friendships along the way. My classmates also provide me with different perspectives, thus allowing me to further my knowledge.”

Sanchez plans to pursue a bachelor’s in nursing degree at Fort Hays State University and wants to work in a pediatric unit and eventually continue his education in pursuit of becoming a nurse practitioner.

Applications for the 2024-2025 school year are now open. Priority deadline to apply for the Nursing program is January 31. Applications can still be received until March 1. For more information or to apply, visit