Tonianne Carpenter stared down the Zane Trace High School track and eyed each hurdle. She bent down and burst from the line as the race began. When she finished, a friend approached and told her she needed to see a doctor right away.
At age 14, Carpenter, of Chillicothe, Ohio, was unaware of how the next few weeks would ultimately impact and change her career path — helped also by the Bachelor of Science in Integrated Healthcare Studies in Ohio University’s College of Health Sciences and Professions.
The visit to the doctor revealed a diagnosis of scoliosis. Carpenter’s friend had recognized the curvature in Carpenter’s back and how her shoulder raised when she prepared to run because she had scoliosis as well. Weeks later, Carpenter underwent two back surgeries that included a 17-inch incision and three rods placed in her back. Through recovery over the next year, Carpenter was exposed to different health fields, including physical therapy, radiology and nursing, which piqued her interest in the medical field.
After finishing high school, Carpenter earned her associate degree in radiologic technology and obtained a position with the Adena Health System as an x-ray technician. Six months later, she began exploring bachelor’s degree programs at Ohio University and came upon the Department of Interdisciplinary Health Studies.
“It (BSIHS) was new. It looked like a nice program and it was made for people like me,” said Carpenter. “Some allied health associate degree programs, like radiology, do not have bachelor completion options. I really wanted to get my bachelor’s degree and the BSIHS is tailored to someone like me who didn’t have that option in my field but wanted a bachelor’s for graduate work, the education and possibly to enter administration work.”
In just three semesters, Carpenter completed her BSIHS degree. A week later, she was offered a position with Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, Ohio.
In her new role operating a CAT scan machine, Carpenter utilizes the communication skills she learned at OHIO.
“I see 200 people a day. That’s 200 times a day I introduce myself, give patients the education on what kids of tests they’re getting done, explaining procedures and why they are important,” she said. “You want to have those communications skills because in healthcare, all medical disciplines are working toward a common goal which is the patient’s health.”
Carpenter said classes that focused on vulnerable populations stood out to her during the BSIHS program and added, “I am definitely a better caregiver for taking these classes and having this bachelor’s degree.”
Now at age 22, Carpenter’s educational journey continues; she is currently enrolled in the associate degree in nursing program at OHIO’s Chillicothe Campus. She started a trend in her family as well as twin siblings, Shannyn and Tyler, 21, are both set to graduate as Bobcats in May of 2021 with degrees in nursing and civil engineering, respectively. Carpenter said that she is most excited about participating in the same pinning ceremony with her sister.