Kim Tackson is an emergency room nurse and cardiac stress testing nurse. Kim’s husband is a firefighter. The Tacksons have two young children, whom they homeschool.
HSLDA: What does homeschooling look like for your family? What’s your favorite experience from it?
Kim Tackson: I currently homeschool my 5-year-old daughter. My 2-year-old son participates, but obviously nothing is required of him!
My favorite experience is watching my daughter finally “get” a concept and knowing that I am the one who taught it to her. So far, I am quite proud of myself (and my daughter) for teaching her how to read and watching her excel with it very quickly. This was a huge hang-up for me, as I struggled with reading as a child—and still struggle sometimes.
HSLDA: Describe what you do in your job.
Kim: I am a registered nurse working at three local hospitals as an emergency room nurse and a cardiac stress testing nurse. Because I homeschool, I work only 1–2 days per week.
As an emergency room nurse, I take care of whoever walks through the front doors of the ER. I serve people of all ages and all types of diseases or aliments. As a cardiac stress testing nurse, I perform four different types of stress tests alongside echocardiogram technicians and nuclear medicine technicians.
HSLDA: What inspired you to enter the medical field?
Kim: My inspiration for going into nursing was an Anatomy and Physiology class that I took my junior year of high school. My teacher was very smart and taught in a way that drew me in and held my attention. She would always add little tidbits that related to the real world. I loved learning why our bodies do the things they do.
HSLDA: What is the most challenging thing you’ve had to deal with as a nurse?
Kim: Oftentimes, there is nothing we can do that is good enough for a patient. People don’t want to hear they have to change their lifestyles. Healthcare professionals now have to take classes on customer service.
Some hospitals serve fried chicken to patients that just had cardiac bypass surgery. Why? Because they have to please the patient, even if it means feeding the cause of why they are a patient! I constantly have to tell patients that I can’t give them a blanket because that will only make their fever go higher, only to come back later and find them bundled up under five blankets.
This tension is a huge frustration of working in healthcare. It’s why many nurses and doctors leave the profession.
HSLDA: What is your best experience as a nurse?
Kim: My best experiences are when I have a meaningful encounter with someone—whether it be laughing with them to help them forget their pain for a second, or spending 10 minutes helping them get comfortable in the bed. All of those little things help me forget the frustrations of healthcare.
Connecting with patients is actually a lot harder than one would think. We are constantly being interrupted by a phone ringing, an ambulance coming in, or another patient who needs us. That is why being able to stop, pause, and be present with a patient or family member, always makes my day.
HSLDA: Why is it important for homeschoolers to be involved in public service?
Kim: Volunteering or working in public service forces people to think of others. This is especially important in a time when everyone’s eyes are pinned to a phone or tablet. The only way to build community is for everyone to work together as a team—which never works when people are only thinking of themselves.
HSLDA: How do you teach or inspire your children to care about serving the public?
Kim: My children are very involved in my career and my husband’s. Sometimes they come to work with me, and they know all my co-workers. My daughter has always said she wants to be a nurse like me; my son wants to be a firefighter like his father. They have watched helicopters take off from the hospital. When a helicopter is flying overhead, they always ask if it’s the hospital’s helicopter. They have also been inside a firehouse and firetruck many times. They know that when “dad gets a call,” he’s going to put out a fire or to help someone who is hurt and bring them to the hospital for me to start treating.
My children have always known the importance of helping others and asking for help. They love hearing about interesting people we helped at work. My daughter always wants to know the person’s name. Both of my children are quick to help each other before asking for my husband’s or my help. This year I am incorporating “give back” days in our school year, giving us a dedicated time to volunteer or even just perform random acts of kindness.
HSLDA: How do your co-workers feel about homeschooling? Have you run into misconceptions about homeschooling?
Kim: I have run into people who tell me that because I homeschool my children, they won’t be normal or know how to act socially. I usually just listen, nod, say thank you, and change the subject. I’m not out to educate the world—just my children!
Many thanks to Kim for sharing her story! This interview is part of our Homeschool Helpers series, which highlights homeschool graduates and parents across the nation serving their communities as public servants. If you’d like to read more inspiring stories, click here.
Photo Credit: First graphic design by Mark Thoburn and Ethan Weitz; all other images courtesy of Kim Tackson.