From restaurant manager to nurse

How one question changed nurse's career path

How it started, how it's going. (L to R): Raven Crawford attended nursing school with her mother Regina. They both work for Ascension St. Vincent's now.


Fifteen years ago, Regina Paradise was at a crossroads. After 18 years in the food and hospitality industry, her husband changed her career path by asking: “What have you always wanted to do?”

In high school, she wanted to be a nurse. Caring for others came naturally. “I’ve kind of been a nurse all my life,” said Regina, 54, now an admission/discharge nurse at Ascension St. Vincent’s Clay County. “I cared for my grandmother, who had hard-to-control diabetes, and my father was a double-amputee. I also cared for a relative with severe Down Syndrome.”

Life had other plans after Regina graduated high school: she married and divorced and raised her family as a single parent. Her husband, Rickey, inspired her to follow her dreams. At 39, Regina enrolled in the same nursing program as her daughter, Raven Crawford. 

They graduated nursing school together two years later. “We motivated each other, seeing who could score the highest on exams,” Regina said. “It was great to have someone going through the same experience.”

Raven is now a nurse supervisor in the Progressive Care Unit at Ascension St. Vincent’s Southside. 

Nursing is only for some, Regina said. Her son and granddaughter thought about becoming nurses, but after working as certified nursing assistants, they decided nursing wasn’t for them.

“It takes a special person to be a nurse,” Regina said. “I never lose sight of having someone’s life in my hands. You never forget the first time you help resuscitate a patient. You internalize the enormous responsibility you have as a nurse.”

Regina finds meaning when she connects with patients by holding hands or offering reassuring words. As an admission/discharge nurse, she has the opportunity to see patients progress during their stay in the hospital. “It's gratifying to see their evolution,” she said.

Regina is advancing her clinical education and training to become a nurse practitioner.