Sharon Swaby-Morgan is a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) at Westminster Woods on Julington Creek, a Life Plan Community serving older in adults in Saint Johns with active, independent living, assisted living, nursing care and memory care. She joined Westminster in 2014 as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) and in the last nine years has escalated her career and grown to love the community and the people.
“Those who know her characterize her as a bubbly, jovial, collaborative, knowledgeable, and fun team member,” said Amanda Birch, former Executive Director at Westminster Woods on Julington Creek and current Director of Culture and Mission Integration for Westminster Communities of Florida. She noted that Sharon and all she has to offer our organization are at the core of what we do – care for residents.
“I love what I do,” Sharon said. “I’ve been in healthcare for over 30 years and people keep saying, ‘Why don’t you try for the hospital?’ The hospital setting is not for everyone, and I don’t think it’s really for me. I like the nursing home setting, I like the seniors, I like working with the elderly. It’s my personal connection.”
“It didn’t take long for Sharon to stand out as such a caring, compassionate individual willing to go above and beyond for the residents she served,” Amanda reflected. “Sharon has been a role model for many on that campus.”
During her time as a CNA, Sharon was motivated and decided to go back to school and approached the challenge with dedication.
“Through her years of experience at Westminster Woods on Julington Creek, Sharon was encouraged to further pursue education to expand her nursing career,” Amanda said. “When she took the leap to do so, she was so excited and proud as she shared the news with me.”
“I found opportunities at Westminster to go back to school, so I took them,” Sharon said. “Even though I had a lot of sleepless nights, eventually I did it. I told myself I’m going to take the boards one time, so I took the boards and I passed.”
With help from Westminster’s Team Member Scholarship Fund and the Tuition Reimbursement Program, Sharon was able to get her LPN. The Tuition Reimbursement Program reimburses current team members for courses they take at an accredited institution, a benefit offered to team members seeking career ladder positions.
“It was a great help and a great benefit to me,” Sharon said.
Over the past five years, the Tuition Reimbursement Program has provided more than $115,000 in tuition reimbursement in amounts ranging from $415 to $9,900, all driving the opportunity for advancement.
When asked how Westminster has supported her personal growth, Sharon said, “Where do I begin?” Support from the organization spans all the way from offering financial support for career growth opportunities to things as simple as being flexible with her schedule to accommodate her attending classes.
“When I was going to my third and fourth semester in school, I had to make an adjustment to my days off,” Sharon reflected. “Westminster was there for me to make that adjustment with my schedule so I could finish school.”
“As it was common knowledge Sharon was pursuing a career path change to LPN, we conducted frequent check-ins to make sure she was on target with her aspirational goals,” Amanda said. “Each time I checked in with her, she was enthusiastic and even embraced what she thought were the most challenging of courses.”
After graduating from the LPN program, Sharon was promoted to an LPN position at Westminster Woods on Julington Creek in May of 2022.
INSPIRING FELLOW NURSES
Nursing is no easy job and Sharon recognized that it has a challenging reputation, but she continues to encourage team members at the beginning of their career to pursue the medical field.
“A lot of people look at it as a very hard field to go in, but if it’s something you really love, and want to become a nurse, I tell them, ’Go for it!’” Sharon said.
She encourages CNAs on her team to take advantage of the career growth opportunities Westminster offers like she did.
“I tell them to try and go back to school. We have the opportunity to do that because of the Tuition Reimbursement Program.”
Sharon noted that the educational opportunities also lie outside of the classroom at the community.
“At the job they will help you, and you will learn a lot!” Sharon encouraged. “You’re learning from other CNAs and the residents; you also learn from other nurses. I’m still learning!”
Sharon is taking her own advice and has signed up to go back to school and pursue becoming a Registered Nurse (RN).
“While nursing is a challenging career, Sharon realizes the rewards that come with the work,” Amanda said. “She oozes positivity and makes every day special for our residents.”
Nurses like Sharon are essential for providing quality care to the older adults in our communities and for helping to shape the future of healthcare. If you’re interested in joining the Westminster team and growing your career at one of our communities, check out the current opportunities at WestminsterCommunitiesFL.org/careers.