Like Mother, Like Daughter

Duo graduate from nursing programs on the same day
Jan. 20, 2013 @ 11:46 PM

There are many moments in life that a mother and daughter can share together. Walking across the same stage to receive a college degree on the same day, however, isn’t a common occurrence.

But that is one that Dee McCroskey and her daughter Tiffany Foster shared when they both earned degrees in nursing from King College in Bristol, Tenn. McCroskey earned her master’s in nursing, specializing in nursing education. Foster earned her bachelor’s in nursing. Both earned perfect grade point averages along the way.

The Kodak mother and daughter duo didn’t intend to graduate from different programs at the college at the same time; that’s just where life led them. In fact, Foster did not intend to follow her mother into the nursing field at all.

McCroskey has been on her “avenue of ministry” as a nurse for about 30 years, starting nursing school right after she graduated from Carter High School in Knox County. She attended a three-year diploma program at St. Mary’s School of Nursing and worked as a nursing assistant through that time. “I just stayed on,” she said. “So I had been at St. Mary’s, which is now Tennova, for 30 years.”

The last 25 years she served in the intensive and cardiac care units, but as she got older she realized that the physical aspects of the job may limit her ability to continue.

“It was really all prompted from pulling and lifting a 463-pound patient, and I hurt my shoulder,” she said. After a couple of days at home and some prayer, McCroskey said God made it clear to her she should get back in school and begin a new ministry through teaching.

“The Lord opened a door and I applied for the bachelor’s program and got in,” she said. She continued into the master’s degree program with a focus on nursing education. Even before she graduated, she had two job offers and chose to take a full-time position at Lincoln Memorial University.

A week into her new job, McCroskey said she is right where she should be, despite any second thoughts about a change in her career.

“I’d had such a great avenue of ministry for 25 years there, that I was kind of hesitant,” she said. “But I knew that the Lord was leading and it’s going to be great.”

Having taught CPR and Sunday school classes as well as helping to train new nurses, McCroskey is not unfamiliar with teaching.

“It’s a lot of fun to teach them the skills and they’re so inquisitive,” she said of her students. “They’re like little sponges. It’s a lot of fun and I love it.

“I felt like I had so much to give, and another avenue of ministry would be to teach these young whippersnappers everything that I’ve got bottled up inside of me for 30 years. And it’s been great.”

She also loved nursing. “I’ve never had the attitude about nursing that it’s a chore or a job,” she said. “It was just always a amazing blessing and I was always happy to go. It was who I was and what I did.”

“I guess that’s one of the reasons I went into nursing, because I saw her and I heard about it,” Foster said of her mother. “I went into it basically because of her, and I’m in ICU, the same place she was, so we kind of tag-teamed out. I took her spot when she left.”

Though she said she’s more authoritative then her mother, Foster said she’ll still call on her mom when in doubt.

“If I ever had a question at work I’d call home,” Foster said.

McCroskey said she always thought her daughter would go into teaching, but Foster said she couldn’t see herself going to school every day.

“But I’m still in school and have been since kindergarten,” she said. “I haven’t had a year off.”

Some of that was as the encouragement of her mother.

“It had 28 years since I had been in school full-time,” McCroskey said of her time away from school. She didn’t want her daughter to wait that long before continuing her education.

“‘Don’t wait 28 years like Momma,’” she said she told her daughter.  “Get that bachelor’s now, because it will be that great pivoting stone to go on to graduate school, even if you wanted to take a couple of years off.”

McCroskey said she was proud when she learned her daughter would be following in her footsteps, and it warms her heart to hear patients or families speak well of her daughter.

“I hear patients talking about the night shift nurse Tiffany that prayed with them before she left and do I know Tiffany, and that Tiffany has such a caring and compassionate heart,” McCroskey. “Oh, she’s a chip off the old block. It just makes me so proud, almost to the point where I could cry talking about it.”