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Finding your calling can often be a winding and indirect journey. For Deitra Watson, it was the journey that led her to a fulfilling, exciting career.

Watson grew up in a large family with five children in Maywood, Illinois, a small suburb just outside of Chicago. A high-achieving student, Watson especially excelled in her postsecondary education, earning both a Bachelor and Master of Science in accounting and a Master of Computer Information Systems Management. After completing these educational programs, she realized that while she enjoyed studying these topics, the job opportunities in these fields left her craving something more.

As she considered which path to take, she reflected back on some of the most pivotal moments of her life that shaped who she had become as a person. Often those moments included taking on the role of caregiver for her family.

“I figured out that my calling was in healthcare,” Watson explains. “My mother and father passed away when they were young; my dad was 54 and my mom was 58. They both had many illnesses, including diabetes and high blood pressure. While they were sick, the majority of the time I was in charge of taking care of my younger siblings. Before my mom went to a nursing home, I was her primary caregiver.”

A call to caregiving

The moment she considered a career in healthcare, she knew it was right for her. Though she had no formal experience in the healthcare industry, Watson decided to jump right into an education and training program at Tukiendorf Training Institute (TTI). From the start, she welcomed the challenges her new program offered.

“Medical terminology and the proper way of caring for someone was new to me. I had been a caregiver but did things my own way as a caregiver of a parent.”

Working toward success

She decided to enroll in two programs from the start—the certified nursing assistant (CNA) and certified phlebotomy technician (CPT) programs. As soon as she completed these programs, she picked up the phone and called a nursing home she knew was hiring. It’s no surprise that the nursing home saw her potential and hired her promptly.

She continued her studies while working at the nursing home, starting medical assistant and patient care technician programs. When she wasn’t working or in class, she studied relentlessly, knowing that her certification exams were on the horizon.

“Our teachers instilled in us that it was very important to study,” she says. “I was listening to the things they were amplifying in class and those were the things I concentrated on when studying for my exams.”

In December 2018, Watson was ready to take her certification exams. In just one week, she took and passed the certified clinical medical assistant (CCMA) exam, the certified patient care technician (CPCT/A) exam, and the certified EKG technician (CET) exam.

Impressed by her dedication and success, TTI awarded Watson with the honor of “Student of the Year.”

Watson recently accepted another job where she’s working a full-time role as an EKG technician. She’s currently pursuing an advanced certification in rhythm analysis.

Pursuing her dream

As for her future, Watson has her journey mapped out. “I want to go 100 percent towards nursing in the fullest,” she says. “I’m eligible to pursue a master’s degree in nursing, and ultimately want to become a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA).”

With her plan in place and her certifications to support her, there’s no doubt that Watson is well on her way toward reaching her career goals.

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