Just after graduation, Mary Ellen receives a letter from the University of Virginia, School of Nursing, asking for her to take an examination for a place in nursing school. She goes to take the exam, only to find that she needs the prerequisites of algebra and chemistry, two courses which she has not done at the Waltons Mountain school. She is given two books to study by the nursing school and told to come back when she knows them to try for the exam again.
John Boy offers to help her, however he is also doing badly at chemistry, so she decides to ask the public health nurse, Nora Taylor, for some help. Nora is staying with a family high on the mountain. The mother is dying of a heart condition. Mary Ellen offers to stay there and help her in exchange for the tuition she needs. After having helped Nora nurse the sick woman, Mary Ellen becomes even more convinced that she must become a nurse to help the mountain people.
- Barbara Eda-Young as Nora Taylor
- Charlotte Moore as Nurse Jenny Stevens
- Jon Lormer as Lair Basham
- Tamar Cooper as Essie Basham
- Shannon Terhune as Violet Basham
- Kim Durso as Sue Basham