“Like a lot of young people, I thought I wanted to be a nurse or a doctor,” Tonya Barnes told us one rainy afternoon.
Through the years, Tonya realized that her dream wasn’t nearly as simple as she thought. She continued to pursue her healthcare dream after college, where she got a job as a Certified Nursing Assistant, but there was more to healthcare than she had previously imagined.
“I realized I was getting too close to my patients,” Tonya recalled.
It was a tough realization. Her passion to help people wasn’t gone, but she didn’t know where to turn. She was actually on the way to art school before she got the call that she was admitted into Baptist Health’s prestigious radiology school.
My mom convinced me to apply. I immediately went, “Ah, I won’t get in,” because the school only took fifteen or so students a year. But right before I left for art school, they called, and I’m so glad it happened this way. I love what I do. It’s the best decision I ever made.
Now, Tonya has nearly two decades of radiology experience under her belt. She does amazing work as the Radiology Supervisor for our Stuttgart hospital: a place she’s learned to call home because of its small-town feel.
Being in a smaller hospital, everyone who comes through our hospital, we’ll see them outside, at the grocery store or gas station. I think it helps them to see us out in the open so we seem like regular people, but it also helps us get to know the patients on a personal basis. For me, it makes me want to try even harder and get everything right, because they are my neighbors.
Her “problem” with getting too close with her patients is actually considered a strength at Baptist Health. We value putting that personal touch on our care, and we endeavor to help our employees see what a pillar of the local community they are.
Tonya represents that very idea. When she’s not working, she volunteers as a youth leader at her church. Every Wednesday you can see her and her daughters serve a hot meal to anyone in need.
To Tonya, it’s simple: her mission is to help.
Patients come to Baptist Health from all over Arkansas. We get to meet a lot of different people. You try to make a difference in their lives, but also do whatever you can to help them.
Before we ended our conversation, we asked her what it meant to her to be a Baptist Health employee.
It means the world. I love my job, I love my team—I have an amazing team that I work with. I feel totally blessed to say I’m part of Baptist Health. It is a wonderful facility to work for.
If you’re interested in working at one of our facilities, know that you’ll encounter people like Tonya every step of the way. You’re our neighbor, whether you’re a coworker or a patient, and we want to help you.