The Tacoma General Hospital School of Nursing (TGHSON) Education Endowment Fund — made possible by alumnae and friends’ generous donations — provides scholarships to nurses like Kimberly Anne Camacho, RN (right) and Carmel Ann Camacho, RN (left) for continuing education and professional leadership development.
For sisters Kimberly Anne Camacho, RN, and Carmel Ann Camacho, RN, nursing is in their blood.
“It kind of runs in the family,” Kimberly says. “First of all, my mom’s a nurse (pictured center) — she’s been with MultiCare since 2003 — and a bunch of my aunts are nurses. My youngest sister is studying to be a pharmacist also. We haven’t really known anything but health care.”
Kimberly recently became a travel nurse, but she started her career at MultiCare (she worked for MultiCare for five years and currently has a per diem position at MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital Operating Room [OR]), and Carmel works at the MultiCare Allenmore Hospital Urology Clinic.
Throughout her childhood, Kimberly saw her mom genuinely enjoying her job as an OR Circulating Nurse and decided to follow in her footsteps. She started at MultiCare in November 2015 as a medical-surgical registered nurse at Mary Bridge Children’s before moving to the Tacoma General Hospital OR in 2018.
“My favorite part of working in the OR is the collaboration,” she shares. “When you’re in the OR, you work with different people every day — you have the anesthesiologist, surgeon, surgical resident or the ARNP, surgical techs, other techs. It’s like a team sport.”
Carmel’s MultiCare story, on the other hand, begins quite differently.
“Growing up, I could not imagine working in the medical field,” she explains. “Seeing blood in any amount always made me queasy, and needles terrified me.”
But one month before high school graduation and with no idea about what she wanted to study, Carmel’s mom recommended she take another look at nursing. Much to her surprise, Carmel soon found her passion and joined MultiCare in 2014 as a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) in the urology department at Allenmore Hospital.
Though she also spent some time as an OR Circulating Nurse at the Allenmore Hospital OR after her RN program, she transferred back to the urology department as the sole RN in February 2020.
“I really enjoy that face-to-face, direct contact I have with the patients,” she says. “It’s rewarding when you can see you’ve helped somebody.”
A joint pursuit of higher education through donor-powered scholarships
United by their love of medicine, both Kimberly and Carmel aspired to earn a bachelor’s degree of science in nursing (BSN). However, the steep cost of continuing their education remained a barrier to achieving their goals.
Then the sisters heard about the Tacoma General Hospital School of Nursing (TGHSON) Alumnae Education Endowment. Last year marked the 125th anniversary of the founding of TGHSON, Washington state’s first nursing school that trained more than 2,200 caregivers throughout its 85-year history to provide leadership in many MultiCare organizations and care to generations of patients. Though the school closed its doors in 1980, the commitment to championing care team education lives on through its 700 alumnae.
To commemorate the anniversary of the school’s founding, alumnae and friends of TGHSON contributed more than $1.8 million in outright and planned gifts to the endowment during the “Our Legacy is Our Future” campaign. These gifts provide sustainable funding for MultiCare nurses like Kimberly and Carmel to pursue continuing education, training and professional growth.
Thanks to TGHSON alumnae and friends’ deep dedication and financial contributions, the two sisters were able to go back to school through full-ride scholarships.
“There are always advances in health care and technology, and I wanted to be current and updated,” Kimberly shares. “To me, patient safety is always number one, and there are always new ways to improve nursing in general. To give better care, you have to further your education. I thank the TGHSON donors (for this opportunity) from the bottom of my heart.”
For Carmel, the leadership experience she’s gained during her BSN education has been invaluable.
“This program equipped me with a lot of knowledge. I’ve learned a lot about management and developed new skills as a leader,” she explains. “Continuing your education can make your practice a lot better and helps you be more effective. I’m so grateful for the scholarship, and I hope to repay it by giving our community and our patients the most excellent care that I can give them.”