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  Spring 2013 graduates and married couple Amy, left, and Stan Winstead will both receive advanced degrees in nursing at the May 10 ECU commencement ceremony. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Rocky Mount husband, wife earn advanced nursing degrees

May 6, 2013

By Crystal Baity
ECU News Services

For better or worse, richer or poorer, and completing graduate school.

Stan and Amy Winstead didn’t include an advanced degree in their wedding vows 12 years ago, but mutual encouragement and support saw them through the past two years as graduate students in the East Carolina University College of Nursing.

Amy will earn a master’s in nurse-midwifery and Stan a master’s in nursing leadership on May 10.

“Some thought it would push us apart or be a strain on our brought us closer together.”

- Amy Winstead
“We totally understood the dedication and amount of work it took to complete the program,” Amy said. “Some thought it would push us apart or be a strain on our relationship, because we had no time for each other, but we feel it brought us closer together.”

Amy is a registered nurse in the Women’s Center at Nash Health Care Systems in Rocky Mount, and a medical examiner in Nash County. Stan is operations supervisor with WakeMed Mobile Critical Care Services in Garner.  

They’ve actually been in school together for five years. Both earned bachelor’s degrees in nursing from the University of Phoenix in 2010.

“We thought we would go back while we had a little bit of steam and were comfortable with the online environment,” Amy said.

Many days and nights were spent sitting across from each other at the dining room table tackling homework and research.

“The workload was almost unbearable at times, and had my parents not helped us with the children, we would not have accomplished our goals,” Stan said of his parents, Fred and Glenda Winstead of Nashville.

Amy’s son, Justin, 21, was able to help care for the younger boys, Matthew, 9, and Peyton, 11, and the grandparents were there to pick them up after school, prepare meals or do whatever else was needed.

Juggling work, children and home responsibilities and the time needed for coursework was a challenge. But Amy said she felt it was something she had to do.

She enjoys working with women, families and communities – a holistic approach that synchs with nurse midwifery. Amy started out in long-term rehabilitation, which is where she and Stan met. Then she transitioned to telemetry, IV therapy, and then nursery and prenatal education.

Stan’s background is trauma, having worked in emergency management services early in his career which led to emergency nursing and emergency management. “My main focus over the past 10 years has been transport nursing which is very different from bedside nursing,” Stan said.

“But this focus allowed me to maintain my interests in emergency preparedness. Infusing nursing theory and practice into the emergency management and disaster preparedness field is a popular trend now and certainly indicative of a nursing science that continues to produce new opportunities.”

Both have enjoyed the varied roles they’ve had in nursing.

“My career absolutely exemplifies the possibilities,” Stan said.

Both earned associates degrees in nursing from Nash Community College; Amy in 1999 and Stan in 1997. Stan, a Nash County native, graduated from Northern Nash High School in 1992.

Amy is originally from Nashville, Tenn., but has lived in Rocky Mount the last 16 years.   

“Our students come from all over the state and country, so it was nice to have a student from Eastern North Carolina to place her in clinical sites in the area,” said Becky Bagley, clinical associate professor and director of ECU’s nurse-midwifery concentration. Amy spent the spring semester in an obstetrics-gynecological center in Elizabeth City.

While the couple has teased about going for a doctorate, they want to take a break now, Amy said.