Author Archives: Christy O’Keefe

A Dream Comes True: A Single Mom with Five Kids Becomes a Nurse

Apr 11, 2012, 1:00 PM, Posted by Christy O’Keefe

By Christy O’Keefe, RN and member, 2009 cohort, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Jobs to Careers program


My name is Christy O’Keefe and I am currently an emergency room RN at the Owensboro Medical Health System Hospital in Kentucky. I had always dreamed of becoming an RN. I love working one-on-one with patients and their families and working as part of a team, with my coworkers, to help improve patients’ health. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Jobs to Careers program helped to make that dream into reality for me when I participated in the program’s 2009 cohort, the first in our area. It was a partnership between Owensboro Community and Technical College and the Owensboro Medical Health System.

At the time, I was a 36-year-old single mom with five kids, doing administrative work for the hospital. I needed to maintain my full-time job for the income and insurance benefits, so it would have been impossible for me to attend classes at our local, traditional nursing school because their classes were held during the day. The RWJF Jobs to Careers nursing program allowed me to work full time during the weekday, go to classes and do my clinical work on weeknights and weekends. Some of the classes were even held at my job.

Not only did obtaining my RN degree help improve my family financially, I am now able to spend more time with my family because I work 12-hour weekend shifts and have the weekdays off to be there for my kids.

Was the road to my dream easy? No, not always, there were some days I would doubt myself and my ability to make it through. But if you think about it, usually the things we want the most are the things we have to work the hardest for—otherwise those achievements would not mean so much.

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