Grad Q&A with Practical Nursing graduate Rebekah Johnson

Rebekah Johnson graduated from the Practical Nursing program at Carrington College in Albuquerque, NM, in July of 2022. In class, she stood out not only as a great student, but also because of her ability to mentor others. “She always wanted to help her classmates,” says Molly Ashcraft, Nursing Dean. “She helped the students in the Concepts in Clinical Pharmacology class the semester after she took it, guiding them, helping with notes, and just giving them support and encouragement.” Rebekah showed great strength, resilience, and determination when she suffered devastating family loss during her time of study—and kept moving forward to graduate. Today, she continues to thrive in her career. Rebekah shares more here about her experience in the Practical Nursing program, and about her current job—where she loves caring for patients as they recover.

What did you do before enrolling in the Practical Nursing program? 

I have worked in healthcare for over 21 years; I worked in gastroenterology and anesthesia as a surgical scrub tech and started working in rehab for more flexible hours during my program.

What made you want to study nursing? Were you inspired by anyone, or by anything?  

As a child, I was a grandma’s girl; we took care of my grandmother at home. When I began working at a nursing home at age 18, I fell in love with healthcare. My mom also was an EMT and taught CPR, and she would take me to the classes.

What was your favorite part of the program? 

Learning to be a good nurse, and all the supportive instructors.

We understand that you went through a very difficult time, personally, while in the program. Would you mind sharing more about that?

I did…it was very heartbreaking! Both of my parents passed away on October 31, 2021—an hour and 15 minutes apart from each other. They both had gotten Covid, and my mom passed away at home, and while the mortuary was at the house, we were saying goodbye to my dad on Facetime, because he was in the hospital. It was the worst day of my life! I was finally able to mourn when school ended.

That must have been an incredibly painful time; we’re so sorry for your loss. As you look back on that time in your life, what do you think helped you through it?

My school bestie and a couple of friends—and the instructors—were incredible. There was even one class where I broke down and ended up crying; the Assistant Dean sat with me. We cried together and talked for a while. Dr. Ashcraft, too, was a huge shoulder to cry on. When I took my last exam, I started sobbing. And when I graduated, I carried a picture of my parents across the stage with me—so we could be together—so they could be there with me.

After graduating, you were offered a job at the same hospital where you did your externship—congratulations! Can you tell us more about your job?

Yes, I work in Medical-Surgical, at Lovelace Women’s Hospital, where I did my externship. I do my assessments, med passes, and any other thing the patient needs. The best part of my job is providing quality patient care and being a good nurse! The parts of my job I find most rewarding are my patients; I love being able to take care of them and watch them get better. The most challenging part is that Medical Surgical is mixed with a lot of intermediate-care patients—because of the changes since Covid—and we have six patients, generally, and some days it’s a lot.

If you had to give advice to a new student, what would it be? 

The best things in life do not come easy! Work hard and you are going to get out of the program what you put in.

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