Findley among first nursing graduates

Published 2:21 pm Wednesday, May 7, 2003

By By LYDIA GRIMES – Features Writer
Thirty years ago Jefferson Davis Junior College began the nursing program that today is one of the best in south Alabama. In honor of that program and National Nurses Week, this week's profile is about one of the first graduates of the nursing program that took place 30 years ago.
In 1969-70 the college was still fairly new and some interest was shown in getting a nursing program started. There were several junior colleges in the area such as Lurleen Wallace in Andalusia, Patrick Henry in Monroeville and Faulkner in Bay Minette, as well as Jefferson Davis. The decision was made to set up an experimental program to offer the academics at the other colleges and the nursing classes at JDCC. That experiment has now turned into the only nursing program offered in this area and one of the best.
In 1973, there were 16 students who graduated in the first class. Through the years there have been many people to go through the program. The largest class was probably in 1992 when there were 50 graduates. At the present, the college graduates three classes a year, with one class graduating at the Atmore campus. They have graduated 1,204 nurses in the years that the program has been in place.
One of the biggest problems has always been to find qualified teachers for the program. Marie Pate, one of the early registrars and counselors, once said that "finding good instructors is as scarce as hen's teeth." In the State of Alabama, a teacher must have a masters degree and even today, it is still hard to find qualified instructors. The program has been so successful that the other colleges in the area are now looking to start their own nursing programs.
Tina Findley was one of those who was in the first graduating class in 1973. She has continued to use her nursing knowledge over the past 30 years, first in the hospital and then in the Escambia County Health Department.
Findley was born at Eglin Air Force Base while her father was in the U.S. Air Force. The family moved a lot while she was growing up and she attended schools in New York, Alaska and South Carolina. After her father retired, the family moved to Escambia County and she went to W. S. Neal High School where she graduated in 1971.
She had decided long before graduation that she wanted to become a nurse. While she was still in high school, she heard that Jefferson Davis Junior College was going to begin a new program for nurses. She and a friend decided to go to the college and become nurses.
Findley graduated in 1973 with an associates degree. She went to work as a registered nurse at D.W. McMillan Hospital working the night shift where she stayed for over two years. She then switched to the day shift and worked mostly on hall three over the next three years.
Findley left the hospital in 1978, got married and went to work at the Escambia County Health Department. She had her first child, Robbie, in 1979 and found that the schedule of working at the health department was better for her. She was able to work days and be off nights and weekends. This worked out for her, especially after her second child, Jacqueline, was born in 1982.
Her job has changed over the years. She has given a lot of vaccinations to children and been a part of many examinations as well as doing her share of paper work.
These days she also volunteers to go to the jail three times a week to check inmates who are ill. She is not able to write prescriptions, but she is able to see if a doctor should be called to either see a patient or prescribe medications for the inmates.
She and her family live in the country where she enjoys reading and working with her paints. She has taken classes in painting folk art and is very good at it. She has some of her artwork hanging in her office at the health department and it looks pretty good.
One of those children is her daughter, Jacqueline, who is following in her mother's footsteps. She, too, has enrolled at Jefferson Davis Community College and plans to become a nurse, just as her mother did 30 years ago.

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