After graduating as part of David Crockett High School’s inaugural Class of 1972, Johnson became a licensed practical nurse before becoming a registered nurse seven years later. A Northeast Tennessean through-and-through, Johnson currently works at Johnson City Medical Center as the house supervisor, a position she’s held for 20 years.
Recently, the Press spoke with Johnson for Nurse Appreciation Week about her choice of career, her favorite part of her job and what it’s been like nursing during a global pandemic.
Dogs or cats: Cats
Coffee or tea: Coffee
Favorite movie genre: Action
Favorite color: Blue
Ultimate travel destination: Australia
Note: Answers have been edited for length and clarity
What made you want to become a nurse?
I was drawn to it. I originally wanted to be in the Peace Corps, but then I realized you don’t get paid for that. I wanted a profession where you’re able to help people and have an important part in people's lives and make a difference. Basically, I wanted to help people and help patients, and in my current role I’m able to help patients, staff and family members all — it’s the whole spectrum.
What’s your favorite part of being a nurse?
The patient contact, and making a difference in someone’s life — to make them smile, make them have a good experience.
What’s the most important part of your job?
Taking care of the patients. It’s what we’re here for.
What’s it been like being a nurse during the pandemic?
It has been different from anything I’ve ever experienced in my 40 years of nursing — the environment, wearing the masks before, during and after and making sure your clothes are separated from your family’s to reduce the risk of contamination and talking to the families and trying to make them understand that these visitation limits are to protect people. It’s been very different, but the bottom line is taking care of the patient.
Certainly nurses are always at risk of potentially contracting something at work, but what’s been the biggest adjustment for you?
There’s always some potential risk for infection, and it’s just the degree to which things are different now. It’s a higher alert than normal, but we’re always aware of that potential.