Tamara Johnson

“Since I was a young girl, I knew that I wanted to be a nurse. I have always had the desire to make people feel better when they were sick or encourage people who were sad. But, I always heard how hard and competitive it was to get into nursing school. I let that discourage me from applying. In 2007, I finally found the courage to apply to nursing school, and I was accepted! My dreams were finally coming true. I started school in 2008 and graduated in 2010 with an associate degree in nursing from Central Piedmont Community College. Unfortunately, the economy was not doing well at that time, causing hospitals to cut back on hiring new grad RNs. I applied for new grad positions, but I was not able to obtain a job.

It wasn’t all bad though because this allowed me to stay at home and raise my three young children. Sadly, at the end of 2014, my marriage took a turn for the worse. My husband and I decided to separate. I needed a job quickly! I didn’t want to do anything but be a nurse. That’s when I went online to the North Carolina Board of Nursing’s website and found out about the Nurse Refresher Course. I found the contact person for the Charlotte AHEC Nurse Refresher Program, Katie Fitzpatrick. She set up a time for us to meet and I signed up. While I was taking the theory portion, I was able to take classes through Charlotte AHEC to help define my skills. I was able to take Basic IV Skills, Adult Physical Assessment, and a Simulation course. These courses equipped me with many of the skills needed for the clinical portion and work. When I completed the theory portion, Katie quickly found me a preceptor on a Med/Surg unit that focused on renal at Carolinas Healthcare System. I was able to apply knowledge that I learned in the theory portion of the program when I started the clinical portion.

I learned so much on that unit. All of the nurses and techs were willing to teach me different tasks, share helpful knowledge, and give ideas on organization and time management. I put in an application on that unit, and the manager called me in for an interview. After my references and background cleared, I was offered a job on that unit! Charlotte AHEC’s Nurse Refresher Program really helped prepare me for the job that I have today. If it was not for the program, I would not have been able to find a job so quickly. This gave me financial security and independence that I needed to take care of my family. Katie was always there checking in on me, to answer questions, and to offer any support needed. She really kept me encouraged throughout the whole process. I am very grateful for everything that Katie and Charlotte AHEC has helped me accomplish. I am finally living my dream and working as a nurse.”