Confronted with the stresses of raising a family, a job that required a grant approval every year and a shaky economy, Michelle Peterson decided to get a college degree that would guarantee a steady job.

Unable to relocate for school, Peterson found a solution at Utah State University-Moab.

“On a whim, I stopped by USU-Moab and spoke with an adviser there,” Peterson said. “I told him I liked helping people in need and wanted to obtain an education with a secure future.”

It was immediately recommended that she look into the nursing program. Now, seven years later, Peterson is the operating room nurse manager at Moab Regional Hospital (MRH).

To help pay for school, Peterson kept her job with Grand County, where she worked as a victim’s advocate, helping victims of sexual assault, burglary and more. When she wasn’t at work, she was busy with school.

“With two small children and a husband at home, USU-Moab’s student center and I became very good friends,” Peterson said. “The close location allowed me to do homework on campus after my full-time job, then return to my family in the evening.”

Staying in her hometown with family and friends was a major reason why Peterson was able to successfully earn her degree. The nursing program is demanding and enforces high standards. With time, her support system grew to include faculty and staff at USU-Moab.

“The employees at the college knew me by name, they knew my family, and believed I would make a great nurse,” Peterson said. “When things got tough, they were always there to lend a listening ear and give me the confidence boost I needed to succeed.”

Upon making it through school and earning her nursing degree, Peterson passed the licensure exam to become a registered nurse and was offered a job at MRH. Peterson said it has been a dream being able to work where she was born and where she delivered her two children.

USU-Moab works closely with MRH, sending students there for clinicals and hands-on training, then providing employment for a majority of the students once they graduate. Many of the nursing staff, including Peterson, serve as mentors to nursing students.

According to Peterson, the relationship that USU-Moab has with MRH, along with the opportunities and environment provided by the university, helped prepare her for her current job.

“The support from professors and advisers, the quality of the education, and the clinical experiences offered at USU all gave me what I needed to do the job I now love and appreciate every day.”

Peterson explains that nursing school is a rigorous journey leading to an amazing reward.

“Nursing school isn’t easy by any means, and being a nurse isn’t easy, either. It’s a high-demand, stressful job, but the benefits far outweigh the negatives.”

USU’s nursing curriculum prepares students not only to pass the state’s licensure exam, but also to tackle the tough, everyday problems nurses face. Peterson said she is better able to face the challenges of her current job thanks to the difficult testing, clinicals at MRH and other skills she acquired through nursing school.

For those who are thinking about a career in nursing, and whether or not USU’s nursing program is right for them, Peterson recommends talking to an adviser, like she did.

“USU-Moab helped me every step of the way,” she said. “They helped me fill out financial paperwork, enroll in needed classes and they were invested in my success.”

Local resident earns degree through school’s nursing program

If you are interested in USU-Moab’s nursing program, visit