Fatimah Kharleed-Goode didn’t start thinking about a nursing career until her 40s, but once she made the move, it was clear she was in the right place. As an RN at Cleveland Clinic’s South Pointe Hospital, she says helping people is her favorite part of the job. “I love my job, I love my patients,” Fatimah says. “Being their advocate is something that means a lot to me.”
So how did the journey begin for this native of Youngstown, Ohio? In her 20s, Fatimah met her future husband as a student at Youngstown State University. When he was drafted to the National Football League, the couple spent time in Missouri, New Jersey and Georgia. Eventually following his retirement, the couple settled in Cleveland, where Fatimah attended business school and became a bank teller, a career in which she would stay for a decade.
Inspired to consider nursing
Fatimah’s mother-in-law was a labor and delivery nurse at Mount Sinai Hospital in Cleveland, and the job always intrigued Fatimah. “She was my inspiration and I found myself interested in what she did,” she says. In 1999, Fatimah joined Mount Sinai Hospital as a secretary, and moved to Cleveland Clinic’s Huron Hospital a year later when Mount Sinai closed. She joined Cleveland Clinic’s South Pointe Hospital in 2001 as a secretary in surgery pre-op/PACU.
In 2012, Fatimah finally made the decision to become a nurse herself, attending Cuyahoga Community College and graduating in 2013—at the age of 54. She became a Registered Nurse in 2013 and got her first RN job on the medical surgical floor at South Pointe.
Bettering herself through education
Fatimah has loved her job from the start, but knew almost immediately after joining the hospital that she wanted to get her BSN. “Cleveland Clinic is a Magnet hospital and it was becoming a requirement, but my thought from the beginning was that I should at least go on for a bachelor’s and maybe even a master’s,” she says.
She started researching bachelor’s degree programs and came across American Sentinel University. “I had friends at work who were students at American Sentinel and I heard great things,” she says. Fatimah enrolled in the RN to BSN program in 2014. “The communication is excellent. The advisors are so supportive. And I really appreciate being able to communicate with the professors. They care.”
Obstacles along the way
Through her BSN, Fatimah has encountered some unexpected challenges, with her husband becoming ill in the middle of the program. “I had to take FMLA leave for a while and it hasn’t been easy, but I’ve kept at it, and I am finishing my last class this week,” she says. “I always tell others, ‘Shoot for your dreams.’ It doesn’t matter what obstacles you’re facing or how old you are. As long as you’re alive, you might as well be working toward something.” Fatimah’s husband of 36 years and their three sons—all college graduates themselves—are cheering her on every step of the way. By the new year, she will officially hold her BSN from American Sentinel.
A lifelong learner
An admitted lifelong learner, Fatimah says she has always considered life to be a journey and the things she doesn’t know to be opportunities to learn something new. In addition to earning her BSN, she recently started taking violin lessons. She hopes to play a song at her granddaughter’s birthday party next year. “You’re never too old to learn something, and I’m still learning,” she says. “This is my journey, and I want to experience it.”
Inspired by Fatimah’s story? A BSN is ideal for nurses who want to expand their knowledge base, become more marketable and enjoy greater career stability and mobility. Specialized knowledge forms the foundation of nursing and when you acquire new knowledge, you can apply it to nursing practice in ways that enhance patient care and improve outcomes.
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