Nursing students taking vitals


Healthcare Heroes: Samantha Luttrell knew Bellarmine would prepare her to be a great nurse

Health Professions

Samantha Luttrell photo

When Samantha Luttrell decided to make a career change from respiratory therapy to nursing, she didn’t even consider options other than her alma mater, Bellarmine University.  

“I knew they were going to prepare me to be a great nurse,” she said.  

She’d had an excellent experience earning her undergraduate degree in respiratory therapy as well as a master's degree at BU and she’d worked with a lot of great Bellarmine nurses. 

She was looking to make the change fast, though. She already had a bachelor's degree, so she didn’t want to start over. And, she had a four-year-old at home.  

Bellarmine’s Accelerated BSN program, which takes one year to complete, was exactly what she was looking for. The program consists of three semesters with each semester divided into two sessions of about eight weeks and includes lots of real-life, clinical experience. 

Graduates are eligible to apply for licensure through their state board of Nursing and register for the NCLEX examination. Bellarmine graduates consistently score above national, regional and local pass rates. 

The program is challenging, but Samantha said she was committed. After working in healthcare quality administration, she had come to miss the clinical side and working directly with people. Plus, she wanted to the flexibility of a nursing career.  

She graduated with her BSN in the spring of 2021 and landed a job as an ICU nurse at University of Kentucky’s Good Samaritan Hospital in Lexington, Ky. Samantha said she was nervous to start at first, especially since her cohort had gone through the BSN program during the height of the pandemic, and more of it was online that usual. But she quickly found her footing and is thriving in her new career. 

“The nursing instructors really did a good job preparing me,” she said. “I knew the right questions to ask when I didn’t know what to do. They definitely teach you critical thinking, patient safety and I have a great foundation of theory. Even in clinicals, if there was something cool happening in the hospital, clinical instructors made sure we got to see it.” 

Samantha said she loved the relationships she forged with her professors.  

“Even moments when you’re sleep deprived and stressed to the max, because you’re learning so many chapters, you can email them and they’ll email you right back. They’ll Zoom call you if you need it.”   

She said she works with lots of renal patients now but found learning the renal system challenging. Her professor went over it numerous ways until she fully grasped it.  

“They really wanted us to learn and understand the material,” she said. 

Samantha said it’s an excellent time to go into nursing, the field provides tons of rewarding opportunities and flexibility. She has friends who are travel nurses making $5,000 a week. They have the freedom to schedule work as they please, for example some choose to work a contract for a certain number of weeks, then vacation for a few weeks.   

“You’re going to be making a lot of money right off the bat,” she said. “Once you graduate, you’re going to be able to pay off student loans, you’re not going to have an issue with that.”  

Samantha said she’s ultimately very happy with the path she chose. 

“I love the ICU, I love my job,” she said. “I’m where I want to be.”  

Tags: ABSN , Alumni



Located in the historic Highlands neighborhood of Louisville, Kentucky, Bellarmine University is a vibrant community of educational excellence and ethical awareness that consistently ranks among the nation’s best colleges and universities. Our students pursue an education based in the liberal arts – and in the distinguished, inclusive Catholic tradition of educational excellence, the oldest and most rewarding in the western world. It is a lifelong education, worthy of the university’s namesake, Saint Robert Bellarmine, and of his invitation to each of us to learn and live In Veritatis Amore – in the love of all that is beautiful, true and good in life.