Kristie Johnston Poppo dreamed of becoming a nurse since she discovered the wonders of a plastic stethoscope and the way it felt to make someone feel better. At an early age, she played dress-up with a uniform and a nurse’s cap. Kristie’s mom, Kathy Johnston, shared her daughter’s love for the healing profession. Both women have realized their dreams and are now experienced healthcare professionals working at Florida Hospital in Altamonte Springs, Florida—Kathy in labor and delivery, and Kristie in the nursery.Obtaining their bachelor’s degree from FHCHS enhanced their careers.
Kathy Johnston was encouraged by her mother to become a nurse, a goal the older woman was never able to achieve. Not sure how she would enjoy working with sick people, Johnston considered making nursing her future profession but didn’t really take ownership of it until she was sixteen. Dating the son of a doctor, she was having lunch at their house when a call came to deliver a baby. “He looked at me and said, ‘Well, Kathy, if you want to become a nurse, you might as well get some exposure to it,’” she recalled. “I went with him to the hospital and saw my first baby being born. I knew that was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.”
Kristie Johnston Poppo solidified her career choice when she was sixteen as well. A pregnant neighbor asked her to help with Lamaze coaching and to be present at the birth. Poppo received additional reinforcement during the summer of 1993 before starting college. “The hospital where my mom worked let me job shadow for the entire summer,” she said. “I got to really see what the nursing profession was about and I loved it!”
After completing three years of school at Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, Tennessee, Kristie obtained her license to practice as a registered nurse (RN). Both mother and daughter found themselves working at Florida Hospital. Kathy began encouraging daughter, Kristie, to complete her bachelor’s degree in nursing. When Kristie enrolled at Florida Hospital College of Health Sciences (FHCHS) in 1997, Kathy registered as well. When they began taking classes, students met in portables because construction on the Nursing Building was not yet complete. The women worked on their bachelor’s degrees as time permitted since both were also working full-time. “One of the things we appreciated most was that the teachers were so willing to work with the adult students and their schedules,” Kathy said.
Once the College moved into the new nursing facility, students were amazed at the resources available. “The nursing labs are incredible, truly state-of-the-art,” Kristie commented. “The College really has something to be proud of!”Johnston and Poppo especially enjoy working with mothers-to-be.
In April 2001, Kathy and Kristie were the ones with something to be proud of. Special clearance was given for mother and daughter to march side-by-side during graduation ceremonies, instead of the usual single file. They had achieved a milestone together! Kristie’s daughter, Amanda, who had been born just two months before, even joined mom and grandma during the recessional. Perhaps another nurse “in the family” began her journey that day.
Both women feel that pursuing their bachelor’s degree at Florida Hospital College enabled them to grow as professionals. “I’m not a robot anymore,” Kristie remarked with a smile. Kathy further explained: “I don’t just do something now because I’m told to. I have sharper critical thinking skills and feel much more responsible. My patients have benefited from my degree as well because they’re getting better care.” Mother and daughter agree that having their bachelor’s is like connecting the dots; first, you begin by learning the basics and becoming an RN, but a bachelor’s deepens your knowledge and makes everything come together. According to Kathy, “It provides you with a bigger-picture experience.”
“I am constantly encouraging people to go to Florida Hospital College because of the personal touch,” Kathy said. Kristie echoes her mom’s sentiments by adding, “The education you get at the College is the best out there!”