Tara Dark registered for a two-year accounting degree but, “Somehow over the summer before I started, I switched over to four years of nursing,” she says.
“When I did switch, my mom told me she knew I was always going to be a nurse, so she wasn’t surprised in the least,” Dark says, laughing. “I like people and I like to talk, and I like to take care of people.”
Dark began working on the diabetes unit at Wesley Long 24 years ago, when the unit had 21 beds. The unit has grown and become a cardiac-monitoring floor with 45 beds. The nurses who work on the unit share patients and work as a team in their approach to care.
“It’s nice because we all get to work together,” she says. “We all help each other and we kid around on the hard days that the reason we stay on this floor is because of each other.”
That floor, she says, is a great training ground. “It’s a very nurturing floor. We get nurses who may not have worked lots of places. As long as they can deal with the fast pace, we tend to bring them in, accept them into the family and work with them.”
As an RN4, Dark is a nursing leader on the floor. She also serves as a mentor for new nurses and leads training. Dark’s director, Mary Anne Amos, who nominated her, cites an example of her compassion and dedication. One of Dark’s patients was to receive the gold medal from the Civil Air Patrol. He had been discharged and Dark planned to travel with him so that he could receive the honor, but he was readmitted.
“We held something in honor of him,” she says. It was the entire staff, she says, who pitched in to help. The staff put a television in his room so that he and his family could watch the ceremony as it was happening in Washington. She arranged for local retired airmen come to pay him honors and the nursing team had a party in his room. “It was really, really special to watch,” she says. The Civil Air Patrol presented him the award in the hospital at a later date.
Dark also teaches a robotic prostatectomy class to incoming urology surgical patients.
When she’s not a work, she spends time with her husband, their adult son and teenage daughter, and two dogs. She also coaches travel high-school volleyball and volunteers at church.