Name: Jennifer Johns
Company: West Central High School
Position: CNA Instructor, Health Occupation Teacher
Graduation Year: 2004
Hometown: Francesville, Indiana
Why did you become a nurse?
My mom was an ER nurse when I was young, so I grew up being familiar with that atmosphere. Some of my earliest memories are my brothers and I visiting our mom at work. Another influence was when I gave birth to our first son. The OB (Obstetrics) nurses who assisted me at that time were so helpful and kind and really made an impression on me. They were also very informative and gave me all kinds of great advice as I entered that brand new stage of my life. When I started my nursing education, my original interest had been OB-centered.
Why did you choose St. Elizabeth School of Nursing?
By the time I considered becoming a nurse, I already had a family of my own. My first priority was still my husband and our son, so I needed a program that would be flexible and could accommodate my schedule. We had a few family friends who were familiar with St. Elizabeth’s nursing program and they were the ones who initially recommended it to me. Honestly though, one of the major reasons I ended up choosing St. Elizabeth was thanks to Anita Reed. When I first arrived and expressed an interest in attending, Anita helped me see how my schedule could fit alongside the school’s program and all the resources that would be available to me. She gave me the confidence to pursue my goals.
What is your fondest memory from nursing school?
I used to commute to campus every day with a group of friends who were also in the same program. Most of us were in similar situations with families of our own. In addition to commuting together, we also formed a study group and became pretty close. One day, there was an intense winter storm and we ended up spending the night on campus and studying together in fear that the commute the next day would be difficult. I still keep in touch with a few of my friends from that group and we’ll reminisce over that night.
What advice would you give to a new nurse?
Go in with an open mind. You won’t know everything, so always count on your teammates. The field is always changing, so you can’t afford to settle with what you already know – you have to be flexible.
How did St. Elizabeth School of Nursing prepare you for your career?
Studying in clinical environments was definitely a huge help. That kind of approach made me feel very well-rounded and confident to handle all sorts of situations. Numerous hospitals allowed us to practice and gain hands-on experience. It was during my time in clinicals that I realized my passion for Emergency Room work and switched my focus.
What was your first job in the field after you completed your degree?
I worked in Jasper County Hospital where I worked for 17 years. During that time I also became qualified to work as a SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) nurse which I continued to do for about 10 years.
What do you do now?
I still work as an ER nurse, but the majority of my schedule is devoted to teaching health science and CNA classes at West Central High School in Francesville.
What do you like most about your current position?
Interacting with patients and caring for them. While in the hospital with my deliveries, the OB nurses did more than just provide medication and help my physical needs, they educated me and gave me advice which is what I enjoy most about being a nurse.
What is the toughest part about being a nurse?
Sometimes I wish there were 2 or 3 of me. ER environments can be hectic by default, so I can’t always spend as much time with individuals as I would like. I had to learn early on how to prioritize and work efficiently.
How do you see yourself through the lens of the school's mission: Continuing Christ's Healing Ministry?
Compassion is essential, but beyond that is caring for patients when they go on and leave our care. Educating patients while they’re within our care can oftentimes help prevent further damage down the road.
What do you do when you are not at work?
I love spending time with my husband and our two boys. Whatever I’m doing, as long as it’s with them, I am happy.