CPTC alumna takes caregiving to another level

By Jean Borst

Stephanie Lyman advanced quickly during the four years she served in the U.S. Navy. She also met the love of her life. When faced with a choice between a post in Japan and leaving the military to stay in San Diego with the man she would marry, love won.

Lyman pondered her next career move while working as a swim instructor. It was a young boy’s nasty poolside spill that set her on her path.

“I got to him immediately and started to put pressure on the laceration,” she said. “Everyone was freaking out, and I was the only calm person there. When I told my husband about it that night, he said, ‘You’d make a good nurse.’”

Lyman had never considered a medical career until that moment, but she was no stranger to caregiving. Her mother was a certified nursing assistant (CNA), and a close friend in the Navy served as a hospital corpsman. And when she was a teenager, Lyman helped care for her grandmother who suffered from Alzheimer’s and early-onset dementia.

“I started to reflect on my life, my strengths and how I care about people,” she said. “I never looked back.”

Next stop: CPTC

The couple relocated to Pierce County to be closer to family and start the next chapter. Her husband, a Puyallup native, became a police officer for the City of Auburn and Lyman enrolled in the Nursing Assistant Certificate program at Clover Park Technical College. After completing the program, she went on to get her Practical Nursing certificate from CPTC in 2018.

“Both programs were phenomenal, and the instructors were pivotal in my career and success,” she said. “The entire nursing faculty fosters a culture that is about helping people learn and grow. I wouldn’t be a nurse today without them.”

Lyman went on to work as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) at Life Care Center of South Hill and Allenmore Hospital. After completing her registered nursing (RN) degree at Pierce College, she joined Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup as a cardiovascular intensive care unit nurse.

New twist in the road

As time went on, Lyman and husband felt pulled to do something different – and to do it together. In 2022, they purchased Comfort Keepers and delved into an entirely different sector of the health care world.

“I realized that I didn’t know what home care and home health was,” she said. “It’s not something CNAs necessarily consider when starting out, but it’s an incredible field truly focused on helping people.”

Comfort Keepers provides personal home care to seniors and adults with disabilities in Pierce, Thurston, Mason and Lewis counties. The company offers a wide spectrum of services, from companion care to acute care, and makes it possible for individuals to live independently at home rather than in a nursing facility. The company currently employs 17 staff members and around 80 caregivers and has no plans to stop growing.

Care for patients and their loved ones

Lyman left her hospital nursing position last year, but she still brings her bedside manner into the homes of the individuals Comfort Keepers serves. As care coordinator for the company, Lyman meets with patients and helps build a care team to meet their needs.

She also oversees the care of hospice patients, recognizing the critical role caregivers play to help ease people and their loved ones through the transition to death.

“Hospice care can be terribly frightening and painful, and if people do not get the care they deserve, it can leave terrible memories for those left behind,” Lyman said. “We provide around-the-clock care and ensure they are as comfortable as possible.”

Lyman and her husband purchased Comfort Keepers to change their lives, but also to change the lives of others. Even so, they never imagined the impact they would have within the community.

“My team and caregivers touch lives like I’ve never seen before,” she said. “I’m so proud of the path we’ve taken.”

Ready to make the leap? CPTC offers LPN-to-RN program

As of fall quarter 2023, CPTC offers a pathway for licensed practical nurses who want to continue their education without giving up their job.

The part-time LPN-RN Transition Program prepares licensed practical nurses to transition to the registered nurse role. And to best serve the needs of working LPNs, the program is offered during weekends and evenings and on a part-time basis.

 To learn more about the LPN-RN Transition Program and other nursing programs, visit the CPTC website.