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CFCC nursing grad returns as ADN instructor

Tamara Kavanaugh
CFCC Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) instructor Tamara Kavanaugh began her nursing education as an adult learner at CFCC, pursuing an Associate of Arts degree in business. Although her studies started smoothly, Kavanaugh faced a rough patch when up against an accounting class.

With little interest and patience for accounting, Kavanaugh reevaluated her situation. She realized if she were to do it again, she’d pursue a career in nursing.

But at first Kavanaugh considered herself too old to start a new career.

“If I had not married at such a young age and then had children, I would have gone to nursing school,” Kavanaugh said. “But, I thought I couldn’t be a nurse now. I’m old.”

A Career-Changing Decision

Then, encouraged by family and friends to explore her options, Kavanaugh decided to meet with her advisor. To her excitement, she discovered she could switch majors with some of her courses counting as entry requirements for the program.

After entering the nursing program in her 30s, Kavanaugh discovered that age was not a barrier. At 38, she graduated with her associate degree in nursing. Then while working in various healthcare settings, Kavanaugh pursued a master’s degree at Walden University. Now, Kavanaugh is proud to serve as a nursing instructor at Cape Fear Community College.

“It’s such an honor to teach at my alma mater,” Kavanaugh said. “CFCC has such a good reputation. It’s surreal to work with my former instructors. I have not regretted a day of working here.”

Real-World Experience (in the Classroom)

In many CFCC programs, instructors worked in their respective industries before coming to CFCC to teach. CFCC instructors bring a real-world perspective to the curriculum. Like other CFCC instructors, Kavanaugh blends her workforce experience into her lessons.

“I like telling stories when I’m teaching. I always try to incorporate things I’ve seen and done along the way,” Kavanaugh said. “The legal and ethical topics that I teach in the beginning semester can be dull, so I try to make it as fun as possible. The students have said they love my stories and practical knowledge.”

Kavanaugh has plenty of practical knowledge to share. She worked as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) during nursing school at a local hospital. After graduation, Kavanaugh worked as a staff nurse in the Women’s Unit at New Hanover Regional Medical Center. She worked in clinical research at PPD and then at Lower Cape Fear Hospice as a hospice nurse.

“I did a lot of different things with nursing. That’s what is so wonderful about this career field,” explains Kavanaugh. “We can work in so many different areas: from the emergency room to hospice care; clinical research to informatics nursing, which involves the use and understanding of technology. There are so many options.”

Always In-Demand

With growing healthcare needs comes a greater demand for nurses. Furthermore, an aging population coupled with a global pandemic expedites this demand for registered nurses.

With a median salary of $66,820.00 in North Carolina and a variety of specialty focuses, a career in nursing can be a rewarding endeavor.

Are you wondering if nursing is the right career choice for you? Take a look at our program or explore the various healthcare training opportunities available at Cape Fear Community College.

Explore Associate Degree Nursing

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