OFTC’s Marla Johnson On Nursing Careers

When Oconee Fall Line Technical College (OFTC) added the Associate Degree in Nursing Bridge Program to their curriculum offerings in 2018, a program that provides a pathway for Licensed Practical Nurses (PN) or Paramedics who have at least one-year of experience to become Registered Nurses (RN), finding the right person to lead the program was key.

Marla Johnson was that person.

“I love being able to make a difference in someone’s life, to be able to make them feel better or to ease their suffering,” Johnson shared. “It is truly a privilege to be trusted to care for someone.”

After working as a nurse at a local hospital for 15 years, Johnson knew she would one day need to transition into a less physical role. So, she went back to college and graduated with her Master of Science in Nursing in 2008 and began teaching for Albany State University (ASU), formerly Darton College, the following year.

When ASU decided to discontinue their ADN Bridge Program which was held on OFTC’s Sandersville Campus, OFTC was presented with the opportunity to take-on the program; and since they already had a pipeline of PN graduates from current programs, beginning the ADN Program was the logical next step.

“I was approached to help with this transition and immediately jumped at the chance to bring the program and new opportunities to our community,” Johnson said.

A program which offers another pathway for those interested in pursuing nursing, Johnson says “the ADN program is a great opportunity for LPNs and Paramedics to further their careers.”

“The program is one day a week so most students still work full-time and manage family life while pursuing their degree,” she added. “And, the program is only three semesters after finishing the required core classes.”

Nursing Careers

Having lived the life of a nurse for so many years, Johnson’s experienced the benefits first-hand and truly believes nursing makes for a great career choice.

“The opportunities for a nurse are endless,” she said. “You can be a bedside nurse, a travel nurse, an educator, or choose one of hundreds of nursing specialties that provide care for patients throughout their life spectrum – infancy through geriatrics; you can function with various degree levels from a Practical Nurse to a doctoral degree in advanced practice nursing.”

“The pay scale is enticing for nurses also,” she added. “Generally, a new RN graduate can expect to start out making $50,000-$60,000 a year.”

Johnson emphasized the qualities of a good nurse citing compassion, knowledge, critical thinking, and advocacy and said “If you have empathy, compassion and a servant’s heart, nursing may be the choice for you.”

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment growth for RN’s to grow nationally by 16% through 2024, which is faster than the average for all occupations. The BLS also estimates that RN employment growth will be even higher in Georgia at 20%.

With nursing jobs at an all-time high in Georgia, “the job stability and the sense of self-worth and satisfaction that you’ve helped someone are two great incentives for someone to pursue a career in nursing,” Johnson said.

Nursing at OFTC

OFTC has many options for someone interested in pursuing the nursing field, Johnson shared. “We offer several diploma and certificate level programs in nursing related fields, the tuition is lower than at a university, the class sizes are usually smaller and there is more opportunity to interact, and the hometown environment is awesome,” she said.

And if you’re truly interested, Johnson says to “contact one of the instructors and we will be glad to answer any questions and help get you on the right track. You can even visit our campus and we can help ease any concerns.”

With a true love for the nursing field, Johnson enjoys helping her students make connections in how to care for a patient. “What I love most about working with students is the transition – that light bulb moment when a student finally makes the connection and is able to critically think about how to manage a patient,” she said.

“Each of my students bring something different to the classroom and I love learning from them,” she added. “My students are all either LPNs or Paramedics in various areas across the state and they share their knowledge and experiences within the class and we all have an opportunity to learn.”

To learn more about OFTC’s nursing programs, visit the College’s website, OFTC.edu.

Johnson resides in Sandersville and has a 17-year-old daughter, Logan and a 22-year-old son, Reed. “Both are the most amazing kids,” she said. “I am so very proud of both of them, even though neither wants to be a nurse!”

ADN Bridge Program instructor, Johnson taking someone's blood pressure
Marla Johnson (L), is an instructor in OFTC’s Associate Degree in Nursing Bridge Program which is held at OFTC’s campus in Sandersville.