Graduate Finds Her True Passion in Surgical Technology
Jun 08, 2012
Student Kristina Watlington just graduated from the surgical technology associate’s degree program at the Danville, Virginia Campus, and she already has a new job that she loves.
It took Kristina a while to find her true passion. She began working right out of high school in varied roles. She worked in doctors’ offices, as a teacher’s aide, and most recently as a cash applications representative for a financial corporation. But she wasn’t happy. “It wasn’t what I wanted to do for the next 30 years... It just wasn’t me.” So when the company started announcing layoffs, it gave Kristina the jumpstart she needed to make a change in her life. “It was time to go do something that made me happy,” Kristina says. And she knew college would be a step in that direction.
Kristina had always been fascinated by the operating room, so when the time came to choose a college to attend, she decided to research surgical technology programs in her area. Although there were several colleges to choose from near her North Carolina home, Kristina says she chose National College because they offered an associate’s degree program, whereas other schools offered only certificate programs.
“If I was going to go and put the effort into it, I wanted a degree out of it,” she says. She acknowledges Director of Surgical Technology Kim Joyce, whom Kristina met when she first visited the campus, with helping her choose National. “She was really excited about the program,” Kristina explains. “That drew me in, because if someone’s not excited about teaching their program, I’m not going to be excited about learning it.”
Kristina began taking classes in March 2010 and graduated this past June 1st, where she was honored with the E.M. Coulter Award for academic excellence. She completed an externship with the prestigious Wake Forest Baptist Hospital and was offered a full-time position there upon her graduation. “We’re really proud of her,” Kim said. “She’s our first graduate to get a job there.”
Even though it has taken a while to get to her dream career, Kristina says it has been worth it because she found her true calling. “You feel like even though [the operating room patients] aren’t going to remember me, they wouldn’t know me if they met me on the street, it doesn’t matter,” she said. “I made a difference in their life for that moment that they were in my room and I love that feeling.”
Kristina Watlington is pictured on the right with her daughter and Surgical Technology Director Kim Joyce (left).
Medical: Surgical Technology - Associate's Degree (SRG)