Monday, April 8, 2019

Elisia Johnson, a senior at Norman North High School, recently had the opportunity to meet with Cardiothoracic Surgeons James Neel, MD, and Kyle Toal, MD, at Norman Regional HealthPlex after writing a letter to the team at the Norman Regional HealthPlex Heart Hospital about her dreams of becoming a cardiothoracic surgeon.

“I have wanted to be a cardiothoracic surgeon since I was in kindergarten because I like helping people. Your career has really inspired me to take time to save a life,” Johnson wrote in her letter. “My life’s purpose is to heal, help, and bring happiness into people’s lives. I want to save all the lives that I can with this career.”

After reading her letter, Chief Nursing Officer Brittni McGill and Norman North leaders scheduled a time for Johnson and her mother, Amy, to come to the Norman Regional HealthPlex to meet with Drs. Neel and Toal and some of the Heart Hospital team, as well as tour some of the clinical areas they visit on a daily basis. Renee Jaques, assistant principal at Norman North, also accompanied Johnson on the tour.

Johnson said she was excited to learn from the surgeons and that the day was better than she could have expected.

“It’s super-duper fun. It’s lots of hard work, but it’s amazing,” Dr. Neel told Johnson about the cardiothoracic surgery field.

McGill and the surgeons showed Johnson and her mother the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit where she was able to look at the surgical instruments they keep there in case an emergency surgery is needed, the Cath Lab, and the Emergency Department, in which they entered from the back elevator where heart attack patients would be brought up to the Cath Lab.

Johnson and her mother left with goodie bags, t-shirts, and answers to all of their questions about cardiothoracic surgery.

“She’s been talking about cardiothoracic surgery since she was a little girl. They took the time and answered every question she asked. They showed interest in her and she became more interested in it because of them,” Amy Johnson said. “We are so grateful to Norman Regional for this experience.”

Johnson plans to attend Moore Norman Technology Center before enrolling in college, and she said talking with the surgeons made her sure this is what she wants to do.

“I can’t stand to see people suffer and in pain. I just want to help people and save lives,” she said.