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Faculty spotlight: Teri Johnson

Gonzales nurse aide instructor is always helping others by Kathryn long


he desire to help others is a hallmark of the nursing profession at every level, and Victoria College Nurse Aide Instructor teri t te ri Johnson is no exception.

“When you work with the same patients every day like you do in a long-term care facility, you get to know them very well,” said Johnson. “they become like your family and you are their advocate.”

Johnson, who has been teaching nurse aide classes for the VC gonzales Center for the past five years, went through VC’s nursing programs herself. She started by training as a vocational nurse in 1998 and went on to earn her Associate Degree in Nursing in 2011.

Johnson also has a passion for teaching. helping students find their direction to succeed in life is the most rewarding aspect of her work.

After earning her vocational nursing certification, Johnson began working. She was drawn toward geriatrics in long-term care at Cartwheel lodge, where she was promoted from charge nurse to assistant director of nurses. Johnson continues to work in long-term care at texas Nursing & Rehab in her hometown of gonzales, where she is the assistant director of nursing in geriatrics.

“the best part is when students who don’t know what they’re going to do finally achieve the first step in their education,” said Johnson. “then they know they can do it and get excited to go on and start helping others.” Johnson said one of the most important things students need to learn to be successful is dependability. “It’s not just coworkers who rely on you to come to work every day,” said Johnson. “the patients need their nurse aides too, and they’re the most vulnerable.” She added that keeping an open mind as a nurse aide is important, along with being kind, compassionate and having an upbeat attitude.

“Nurse aides have the most difficult job in the healthcare field, especially in geriatrics and nursing homes,” said Johnson. “they’re responsible for so much and function as the nurse’s eyes and ears, reporting on anything that isn’t normal.” Even when treating the same patients over a period of time in a long-term care facility, things can change from day to day—sometimes dramatically. Johnson remembers the remarkable story of a patient on hospice care who was suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In order to make her more comfortable in her final hours, Johnson and her colleagues administered drugs and breathing treatments. the results were surprising. “No one was ready for her to go, so we gave her what we thought would help ease her distress,” said Johnson. “the next day, she was sitting up and saying ‘thank you!’ She got better and lived another year.” “She was so grateful; she would call me her ‘mujer hermosa,’” added Johnson. Beautiful woman.

student spotlight: brittany Komoll

Gonzales High School student heads toward a career in nursing by Julian cavazos


f there’s one thing Brittany Komoll has learned during her nurse aide clinical hours in a nursing home, it’s that no one should take life for granted.

hours feeding, bathing and checking the vital signs of her elderly patients at texas Nursing & Rehab every tuesday through Friday.

Brittany realizes how healthy and mobile she is compared to those she helps.

She enjoys helping people who cannot help themselves.

“Many of the people I work with are disabled,” the 17-year-old said. “Some can’t walk or talk. they can’t eat on their own. I’ve learned to think about every little detail in my life and appreciate everything.” Brittany participates in VC’s nurse aide certification program offered at gonzales high School. She and her classmates watch instructional videos and use mannequins to practice exercises such as rolling patients over in their beds. As part of her nurse aide clinical requirement, Brittany spends two



“I love helping people,” she said. “It’s very rewarding. I really want to help make them healthy.” Brittany said that she gets to know her patients after spending so much time caring for them. “the hardest part is getting attached to them and knowing that they need something I can’t give them,” she said. “that can be heart-wrenching because it’s important to me to make sure they’re comfortable and happy.” Brittany is also taking courses at the Victoria College gonzales Center and plans to begin VC’s Vocational Nursing

Victoria College I

program this fall. She appreciates having a place to take college courses so close to home. “VC’s gonzales Center is great for those of us who live here,” she said. “I may have to go to Victoria occasionally, but it’s not very far to drive. I wanted to stay close to home and be with my family.” Komoll hopes to work as a nurse aide while taking classes. her goal is to obtain a bachelor’s degree in nursing. She’s excited to accomplish her dream of becoming a registered nurse and work full time to help patients. “I want to work every day, even if it’s not in a nursing home,” Komoll said. “It’s very rewarding to know I’m making a difference by helping patients feel better.”

CareerFocus I Spring 2012


Career Foc us

Program spotlight

Nurse Aid Feature- Career Focus