Katie Johnson

Submitted 2022-07-01

My educational journey and the things I’ve learned in school over the past 12 years have shaped me in ways I would have never imagined. When I started school to become a Surgical Technologist in 2010, I had no idea I would be a nurse working on my bachelor’s degree 10 years later. That is what I have loved about my journey; it wasn’t all planned out.

It all started when a co-worker from a care center where I was working told me about the surgical technologist program at Davis Technical College. I didn’t even know that was a job and was immediately intrigued. I remember coming home from work that day, researching the field and the college, and applying right then and there. I didn’t grow up in a family where postsecondary education was a thing. My parents or grandparents didn’t go to college, so I was never encouraged to start myself. After getting into a very competitive Surgical Tech program, only 15 out of 108 who applied got in; I loved every day at school and all the required tasks. I think what was different and made me so excited to study and do homework was that this was something I chose to do. Unlike high school, where everyone had to go and was more or less taking the same classes, I was there because I asked to go; I applied and got in.

After becoming a Certified Surgical Technologist, I was the happiest I had ever been. I had an amazing job where I got to be part of a team that helped people in such a unique and different way, removing a tumor or kidney stone, reconstructing someone’s hand after a terrible accident, restoring blood flow to a limb, or being a part of someone’s liver transplant. Working in healthcare has been one of the most encouraging environments for understanding the importance of health, well-being, and education. I get to see, firsthand, people on their worst days sometimes, and being a part of their healing journey is truly an amazing experience. I was so glad to find the operating room as a place to start my career; it is a true example of teamwork. Everyone is in the room together working for one patient, and it is such a great dynamic. Working in other areas of healthcare, I have noticed different team members with different roles are in and out of a patient’s room and usually only communicate with each other over the phone or through the computer; it feels very disconnected.

After working as a Surgical Technologist for eight years, I had an itch to start learning something new. I loved my job and didn’t want to leave the operating room. I could see all the different roles or jobs I could do in the OR, and it was encouraging to know I could easily go on with my education but still do what I loved. So, I decided to go to nursing school. I applied at Davis Technical College, and I loved how the surgical tech program was set up and knew I would enjoy their nursing program as well. Nursing school was one of the most challenging things I have done. It was challenging because it was such a huge time commitment. I knew it would be but not until I was in it was it so clear. I worked full-time during nursing school to provide healthcare insurance for my family. It was hard, and I was gone a lot, but it came down to that same feeling I had years ago when I started my surg tech program; I was there because I chose to be. I was there because I lived in a country where I had the opportunity to go to school, and I had the support of my family and work-family.

I have been working as a registered nurse in the OR for two years, which is awesome. In doing so, I’ve expanded my role as a surgical technician and have been able to use all the experience anda knowledge I’ve accumulated over the years to keep learning and growing and becoming a better member of the healthcare team. I have since accepted a part-time education position at my facility, where I work with the new employees. I get to share my love for what I do with them. I get to teach them skills and lessons I’ve learned over the years in hopes of creating the same joy found by doing what I do.

My educational goal is to finish my bachelor’s degree this fall. I have accelerated each semester by taking an extra class or two to be able to finish early. After that, I plan on getting my CNOR, the credentialing that represents a certified perioperative nurse. I remember when my department was hiring for a Cardiovascular team manager, and the woman hired had CNOR in her title. I was interested and read up on it and was so excited to learn that there was more I could do to become a better expert in the field I loved.

I love what I do and where I work so much and am very content, but there is part of me that wants to explore my educational path more. I always think back to my first introduction to healthcare and my first job as a Certified Nursing Assistant. I worked in a care center with the elderly and helped them with their activities of daily living. It was demanding and sometimes challenging work, but I loved my time spent with that patient population. I often think back to the people I helped get ready for breakfast in the morning, the people I helped bathe, and how good it felt to help someone else feel good by doing the most basic tasks we take for granted each day. Gerontology and working with that patient population again is something I think I am destined to do. I can see myself returning to get my Nurse Practitioners license and specializing in Gerontology.

Through generous donations like the one from your organization, I can continue on my educational journey. For that, I am forever grateful to the wonderful people in the world like you.

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