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Registered Nurse Returns to College for Bachelor’s Degree


Registered Nurse Returns to College for Bachelor’s Degree

MOUNT OLIVE – Healthcare is a fast paced, dynamic environment where providers of care should continually renew, update, and challenge their knowledge.  But how do professional nurses meet tomorrow’s challenges, without being overwhelmed by today’s responsibilities?

Busy does not begin to describe Tammy Spain.   She is a full time Trauma Performance Improvement Coordinator with Vidant Medical Center in Greenville.  She is actively involved in the Emergency Nurses Association, a Course Director for the Trauma Nursing Core Course for the hospital, and is an Advance Burn Life Support Instructor. Spain is the acting chair of several committees at Vidant Medical Center including the Leadership Performance Improvement Committee (LPIC), Trauma Operating Room Committee (TORC), Mortality/ Faculty Committee, and the Practice Management Guideline Committee (PMG).  She is a horse trainer with 27 horses and 30 students that she teaches weekly.  The 49-year-old is a wife, mother, and soon-to-be grandmother.  She is also a 4-H Volunteer.   In 2016, Spain added full time student to the list. 

People often ask her, “How do you do it all?  Do you ever stop?”  She tells them, “I really don’t know.  I just push myself every day and take one task at a time, instead of dwelling on everything at once.”

At the root of all of that Spain does is her desire to help people.  It is a passion that she has developed and nurtured since her youth.

“I love helping people and knowing my contributions are improving lives,” she said.  “When I was five years old my father was in a motorcycle crash and was in the hospital for a year. He sustained many severe injuries.  Back in the 70’s, visitation rules were much stricter than they are now.  Children were not allowed in the rooms to see patients. However, his nurses were so compassionate.  They worked with the hospital management and allowed me to see my dad. They went above and beyond and showed their compassion. This, in my opinion, helped promote my father’s healing. I realized at a young age, that all things are possible.  That drive has been passed on to me.  I love to educate and to encourage people to get well.”


Spain started her nursing education as a Licensed Practical Nurse from Pitt Community College in 1989.  She went back to Pitt Community College to earn her associate degree in nursing in 1991. The next 28 years included experience in trauma care, wound care, burn care management, and trauma performance improvement.

Her experiences are vast, and her resume is filled to brimming with accolades and awards, so why would Spain possibly want to go back to school?  That is a question she has been asked many times.  Ultimately, earning her bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) is a personal goal that Spain always hoped to achieve, but often pushed to the back burner.  At the encouragement of the Vidant management team, Spain decided to take the educational plunge.

Living and working in the heart of Greenville, Spain could have chosen to attend any number of institutions to obtain her degree.  She chose the University of Mount Olive because it was convenient, it was personal, and it was highly recommended by several of her co-workers who had attended the institution. 


“I looked into several options, but the University of Mount Olive really stood out,” she said.  “The faculty and staff went above and beyond in responding to my questions and concerns, and the online program fit well with my work schedule.”


“Tammy is dedicated, energetic, and dependable,” said Joy Kieffer, University of Mount Olive Division Chair and Associate Professor of Nursing.  “She exemplifies management skills in her clinical settings, and provides care to a diverse population. She is a responsible registered nurse with excellent communication skills, and she brings that excellence to the classroom as well.”

In May, the University of Mount Olive presented Spain with the Division of nursing Outstanding Nursing Student Award.  She is on target to graduate from UMO in December and is planning to immediately enroll in the University’s Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program.  “I want to obtain my MSN so that I can share some of my experience and knowledge by one day teaching,” she said.


Spain shares her story because she wants other RNs to know that despite the many barriers that may stand in the way of earning a BSN degree, the end product is well worth the effort. 


“Earning my degree has been a wonderful experience,” she said. “I am so glad I finally did it.  I just wish that I had known about UMO many years ago.  UMO has allowed me to accomplish personal goals I never thought I could accomplish. Earning my degree has given me the confidence to continue to push myself.”


Spain has been married to her husband, Roger, for 30 years.  They have one son, Brandon and a daughter-in-law, Sarah.  Their first grandchild is expected in October. 


The University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The University, sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists, has locations in Mount Olive, New Bern, Wilmington, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Research Triangle Park, Washington, Jacksonville, and in Smithfield at Johnston Community College.  For more information, visit