In April, Antoinette Johnson completed a six-year journey of dedication and sacrifice with a short walk south on North McClurg Court.
After a dozen years in various administrative roles in the Pain Management Center (located in our 345 E. Superior location), Antoinette recently completed her nursing degree and is the newest registered nurse in the 23rd Floor Brain Innovation Center.
The following conversation with Antoinette has been edited for length and clarity.
Tell me about your time in the Pain Management Center (PMC).
When I first came here in 2006, I had just decided to go back to school. At the time, I was working as an administrative coordinator. I earned my bachelor’s in healthcare leadership and, after that, my master’s in health services administration. I was then promoted to the business support manager position in the PMC.
I’ve done every position here, administratively — administrative coordinator, insurance coordinator, program coordinator, and I’ve even been able to fill in as a manager when needed.
Why did you want to become a registered nurse?
About six years ago, I found that I had more to give. That’s when I made the decision to go back to school for nursing. First, I had to complete prerequisite coursework, and that took about two-and-a-half years. I took some time to research schools because the reality was I needed to continue to work full time, not part time, and there are not a lot of schools that offer evening-and-weekends program options. Then, I found Resurrection University, which does, and I was accepted!
About six years ago, I found that I had more to give. That’s when I made the decision to go back to school for nursing.ANTOINETTE JOHNSON
A full-time job while taking on a rigorous degree program — how did you manage that?
I have to say, I would not have been able to do this without the support of my managers. Dana Nelson [now the director of Patient Safety and Accreditation], who I reported to at the time I started taking classes, was very flexible with me. For one class, I would take my lunch and go to class, and then come back to work. There were days I needed to leave early or even start late. She was really supportive in that regard. Then, when I later reported to Jennifer Richert [now associate director of Internal Staff Development], she was the same way.
In my last semester, I actually had to get approval for intermittent time off, because I had to shadow my preceptor, who worked nights. When I was shadowing and had one class to attend, I would leave the shift and come directly here, work a few hours, and then go home.
If I did not have the support of my managers, I’m not sure I would have been able to complete the degree. I’m really appreciative!
I have to say, I would not have been able to do this without the support of my managers.ANTOINETTE JOHNSON
Did you use Shirley Ryan AbilityLab's employee tuition reimbursement benefit?
Oh, of course!
A bachelor’s, a master’s, a nursing degree — you’ve done so much continuing education while you’ve been with our organization. What drives you?
That’s just my nature, to extend myself. Plus, I like helping people.
What about nursing called you?
That connection with patients and families, building relationships and being able to have that impact — it keeps me going.