— Sonya Jones dreamed of being a nurse from a young age, but life circumstances caused her to put those dreams on hold as she started her family and raised her young children. After several years of being a homemaker, Sonya returned to the workforce after the birth of her fourth child. Sonya shared, “I had already worked in the fast-food industry, and it was not for me, so I chose to go to school.” Sonya started her career in healthcare after earning her CMA certification in 2015 and continued in that role for five years at AdventHealth Manchester.
In 2020, Sonya decided to pursue her dream of becoming a nurse. Sonya recalled her decision to pursue her nursing degree: “I had always told myself that I wanted to be a registered nurse, even from a young age, but life got in the way. I had my kids at a young age too. I knew that if I didn't pursue nursing, I would make excuses and talk myself out of it. So, I decided that when all my children were older and in school, I would go for it. I applied to nursing school with two other girls, and I was the only one that actually started.”
When Sonya began nursing school, she was working as a scribe and CMA for three different physicians. In addition to the challenges of being a working mother and attending nursing school full-time, she had to navigate the unique and unprecedented challenges that attending nursing school during the COVID-19 pandemic brought. Sonya recalled, “I began nursing school during the COVID pandemic, I worked Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 4 PM. After work, I would drive an hour to school for classes from 6 PM to 9 PM, and then drive an hour back home. It was quite the juggling act, but I was determined to make it work.”
Being the first in her family to pursue secondary education, Sonya acknowledged, “I didn't have anyone to look up to or aspire to be like, so I had to figure it out on my own.” She found God’s grace and care through the selflessness and tremendous support of her husband and mother-in-law during this challenging season of work, education, and motherhood. Sonya emotionally shared about their unending love and support, saying, I'm so grateful for my husband and mother-in-law who have been so incredibly supportive of me throughout my journey. Without them, I wouldn't have been able to achieve what I have today. My husband was willing to give up his job so that I could continue to work and go to school while he managed our four children, including helping the kids do online school. They have encouraged me and cheered me on each step of the way and for that I am truly thankful.
Sonya candidly shared the difficulties and rewards of pursuing a career in nursing, “You will have a lot of bad days and times when you feel overwhelmed, but when you make a difference in someone's life and they say, “thank you” it makes it all worth it. Medicine is always evolving, so you have to continuously learn, grow, and adapt. Even though it can be stressful, it's also an opportunity to grow and develop every day, so you're never doing the same thing twice.”
After completing nursing school, Sonya transitioned from her role as an outpatient clinic manager (a promotion she received while in nursing school) to the operating room. As a surgical nurse, Sonya has the privilege of caring for patients during some of their most vulnerable moments.
She recalled one of her most rewarding moments, saying, “One of the most rewarding aspects of my career has been the moments when I've been able to connect with a patient on a deep level. For example, I recently had a patient who was very anxious about her boyfriend not being present during her first labor and delivery that ended up turning into a C-section. I made sure to take the time to listen to her and do what I could to make her feel heard and supported, even in the midst of a chaotic and stressful situation. After the procedure was done, she thanked me for trying to get in touch with her boyfriend, saying that it was all she was worried about and that it meant a lot to her that someone was listening. These moments are incredibly rewarding and remind me why I chose this career.”
When asked how she stays motivated to reach her goals, Sonya said, “I focus on reminding myself why I am here and who I am here for. I tell myself every day that I am here for the patients and that they need us. I recognize that they are in a vulnerable state and that they are trusting us to take care of them while they are asleep. This helps me to put them first and to stay motivated and reach my goals.”
We asked Sonya what advice she would share with others who have dreams of pursuing a successful career in nursing, and she said, “In order to be successful in the nursing field, it is essential to possess key qualities such as compassion, consideration, adaptation, and a willingness to learn and grow. Compassion and consideration are essential as every patient has their own story, and it is important to be able to put aside one's personal opinions and be able to provide care for all patients. Adaptation is also a key quality, as medicine is constantly changing and advancing, and it is important to be able to keep up with the latest knowledge and practices. Lastly, a dedication to learning and growing is important in order to remain successful in the nursing field, as it is essential to constantly develop one's skills and knowledge.”
In the next five years, Sonya would like to pursue her bachelor's degree in nursing to help her gain a deeper understanding of the core knowledge she needs for her work, as well as further developing her critical thinking and leadership skills. She is considering pursuing post-graduate studies and possibly becoming a nurse practitioner one day, so a bachelor’s degree is her next step to obtaining that goal.
AdventHealth is honored and so proud to share Sonya’s incredible story. She is an inspiration to our team and truly embodies our mission and service standards. We are certain that her incredible work ethic, positive attitude, and determination will inspire women to reach for and obtain their biggest goals, regardless of their circumstances. As we celebrate Women’s History Month and Women’s Day, we hope that stories like Sonya’s will inspire you to reach your goals and overcome whatever obstacles may be in your path.