Fill in the blank: “I like working here because ___________.” Generally, few will cite “the paycheck” or even “the culture.” People need more, according to Jory MacKay, reporting for INC.com. Existing research shows finding purpose in one’s work can improve performance, commitment, job satisfaction and overall well-being. The world is full of everyday heroes changing the world through careers that stem from their personal commitment to making a difference. In North Texas, many of these everyday heroes got their start at Tarrant County College.
Tammy Arnold, RN
For some people, career choice becomes a family affair, with the children following parents into “the family business.” With Tammy Arnold and Amber Griffith (pictured, above), it is just the opposite. “Both of my daughters left home in 2014, one for college and the other to begin her new nursing career. And I was alone. I’d spent the past 18 years raising my daughters as a single parent and it was time for me to focus on raising myself.” That is when Tammy Arnold made her decision to become a nurse. “With both of my daughters grown, going back to school gave me a new purpose in life,” said Arnold.
She graduated from TCC’s nursing program in May 2018 and began her new job at a local North Texas hospital after passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) and gaining her Registered Nurse license (RN). Now working at the hospital full time, Arnold must complete a rigorous, 12-week, on-the-job orientation with classroom time and clinical rotations. “I appreciate the amount of time spent on orientation because it gives new hires training on specific hospital guidelines, while also focusing in depth on patient safety.” said Arnold. “The hospital’s goal is to make sure all new hires are successful in their training. With the combination of classroom and skills training, I know I’ll feel more confident of my abilities when I step out on the floor as a new nurse,” she said.
“Tammy is a very conscientious individual. She is always striving to be her best for herself and her patients,” said Jessica Cox, assistant professor of Nursing. “It is not an easy road to become a nurse. It is refreshing to see a student who is passionate about our profession. I am proud to call her a graduate of our program.”
Arnold believes coming to nursing later in life gives her greater emotional stability, which she feels is needed to reach a deeper sense of compassion for her patients. “One of my goals is to be a travel nurse. Travel will give me an opportunity to meet other nurses and gain extended knowledge as I travel to different parts of the country.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates a shortage of almost 4.3 million nurses, physicians and other health human resources worldwide—reported to be the result of decades of underinvestment in health worker education, training, wages, working environment and management. Typically, travel nurses can have their pick of jobs, including temporary nursing positions, mostly in hospitals. As Arnold gains experience, international travel also is an option for consideration.
Another of Arnold’s goals is becoming a labor and delivery nurse. “I want to be there to help introduce babies to their new parents,” she said.
Amber Griffith, RN
Tammy Arnold’s daughter is a highly skilled emergency room (ER) nurse with six certifications beyond her registered nurse license and her Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
For Griffith, the fast pace of the ER, in addition to the adrenaline she gets when treating trauma patients, reinforces that she is indeed right where she wants to be – right in the middle of the madness of the ER where she feels her abilities are best at use.
Griffith has begun an online master of nursing degree through the College of Nursing at the University of South Alabama. “With my new studies, I’ll be learning to become a family nurse practitioner and an adult-gerontology acute-care nurse practitioner,” she said. “I also plan to continue my work in an emergency department, ideally at a Level I trauma facility.” Her long-term goal is eventually to teach nursing while continuing to work in an emergency department.
With a mother and daughter both having pursued the same degree at TCC, naturally, there was some crossover with instructors. Assistant Professor of Nursing Bekki McKintosh remarked on her experience with Arnold and Griffith as students. “I had the pleasure of having both Amber and Tammy for their final clinical rotation, Complex Concepts of Adult Health. The content is primarily critical care nursing and the semester is incredibly intense.
"Amber and Tammy always behaved professionally, demonstrated exemplary critical thinking skills and possessed a fabulous sense of humor that made them a joy to work with. I truly enjoyed having both Amber and Tammy in my classes. This mother-daughter duo has proven that ‘exceptional' runs in the family!” It is also clear when, in the presence of this duo, that they are equally proud of each other, as well as being proud TCC graduates.
Ian Moak, EMT
Imagine looking in your rearview mirror and seeing the flashing lights of an ambulance screaming behind you. In North Texas, it is likely that the crew in that ambulance, the emergency medical technicians (EMTs), paramedics or both hold credentials and/or degrees from TCC. The intensive, two-year EMS program at TCC Northeast results in an Associate of Applied Science in Emergency Medical Services. TCC also offers two Level 1 certificates for paramedic certification and training as an emergency medical technician (EMT).
EMT Ian Moak is enrolled in the two-year, 33-hour Paramedic Certificate Program. Moak, who was born in Germany, is participating in the selective admission-based program that teaches basic and advanced life support procedures. Paramedics are the primary care providers in advanced ambulances and fire departments. “Because I’m young, I feel like I can take my time to see what opportunities become available to me once I complete my paramedic certification,” said Moak, who is 22 years old.
In Moak’s current job at American Medical Response Arlington, he is an EMT-B and typically one of the first responders on the scene when an ambulance is required. Moak loves to keep busy and loves the work he does. “With this job, I see and do new things every time I clock in at work. I like the excitement and the challenges that my job puts in front of me,” he said. “I never get bored and I’m learning transferable skills that will help me down the road. It may sound corny, but I genuinely like helping those that are in need.”
First responders learn to expect the unexpected. “EMTs and paramedics never know what the next call will be and have to be ready and prepared for anything, with very little warning,” said Jeff McDonald, coordinator of TCC’s EMS Program. “Hands-on experience, in the classroom and in clinical settings, provides the students with cognitive tools to make life-and-death decisions at a moment’s notice.”
Moak knows he chose well with TCC. “Hospitals, fire departments and ambulance services know the quality of TCC EMTs and paramedics and tend to hire them. If I know someone who wants to go down this career pathway, I recommend TCC without a doubt,” said Moak.
“Everything I do in working for this certification has a reason. Everything we learn in the classroom, the practice scenarios and the clinical rotations in hospital emergency departments and the field practicums in ambulances, all fit back together. It’s like a puzzle and all of these things combine to make TCC the best choice of the other local options. I couldn’t have made a better decision than coming to TCC,” said Moak.
As the number of jobs in the health sciences, police, fire and rescue, along with hospitality services and logistics and supply chain management, continue to grow, so will the need for high-skilled workers. TCC’s Director of Talent Acquisition Ebony Alexander stresses the importance of considering exploring different academic areas to find the best fit. “Nursing may not be for everyone, but if you have a head for numbers, engineering, architecture and construction may be areas to explore. It never hurts to do some investigation into the fields you think you might be interested in. You may find something completely different that suits your inner drive,” said Alexander.
According to the job site, indeed.com, there are approximately 1,300 RN positions open in the various medical fields in Fort Worth. Likewise, indeed.com shows more than 150 open EMT and paramedic positions in Fort Worth. North Texas is growing exponentially and so will these types of jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov) sets the May 2017 annual mean wage from RNs in Texas at approximately $72,000 and for paramedics at approximately $37,000.