by Vickie Jenkins – Writer/Photographer
“I’m living my dream,” said Charla Thomas, RN at Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital in Bethany, OK. Charla works with the children in rehab. It is her bright smile and her genuine happiness that seems to shine through as she talks about the children. “Ever since I was a little girl, I had the dream of being a nurse when I grew up. All of my baby dolls were my patients as I took care of them with my TLC and my doctors’ kit,” she laughed. “I knew I wanted to work in Pediatrics or work with children. It’s as though I knew I would be a nurse when I grew up.”
After graduating high school, Charla’s first job was a CNA here at the Children’s Center. She went to Redlands College in El Reno, OK and became an LPN and then a RN and has been a nurse for 8 years. “Children make everything better, and to me, children are the true meaning of life.” “Did anyone influence you to become a nurse?” I ask. “No, I am the only one in my family that has gone into the medical field. It was always my dream so you see, I really am living my dream,” she replied.
If Charla gave advice to someone going into the medical field, she would say, Follow your heart. Wise advice coming from someone living their dream. Asking Charla what qualities make a good nurse, she told me that they would need to be well rounded in all aspects, not just one specific thing. When asking Charla what her greatest and strongest asset is, she answered, “My biggest asset is being caring. I try to treat everyone in the same way that I would want to be treated. I always think of my two little girls and I would want others to treat them that way.”
“Do you have any hobbies?” I ask. “My husband and I do scuba-diving and I just love it,” she answers. “It was kind of funny how I started scuba-diving,” she says. “It was actually a wedding gift from my in-laws when my husband and I got married. I had never been scuba-diving and after I tried it, I realized how much I enjoyed it. We’ve been married for six years now. I also like to spend time with my family. My husband and I have two daughters, one and three years old. I spend as much time as I can with them.”
A typical day for Thomas consists of checking the schedules when she arrives. Rehab gets everything ready for the children and their therapy. When the children arrive, she works with them according to their needs. “Each child is different and each child needs a specific form of therapy. The most rewarding part of my job is when I see a child improve from the work they have been doing all along. It gives me a good feeling,” Charla said.
Asking Charla what a perfect evening would be, she answers, “It would be dinner with my husband and daughters and then spend time watching a Disney movie on T.V.” Charla listens to KLOVE and country music. “If you were on a TV show, what show would it be?” I ask. “Oh, it would definitely be Family Feud,” she answered with a laugh. “I love that show,” she added.
“What is something most people don’t know about you?” I ask. After a pause, she replies, “I think it is the fact that I am extremely sensitive, it gets in the way sometimes. I always try to hide it but that doesn’t work too well,” she says with a laugh. If her co-workers could describe Charla in so many words, Charla thinks they would describe her as: Fun, creative and hyper.
“What are some of the challenges that you deal with working with the children?” I ask. “I have a really hard time when I get attached to a problem and I need to keep it all together,” she replies. “If you were to give others some words of wisdom to live by, what would those words be?” I ask. “Live each day like it was the last day and make it count.”