September 23, 2020
By Charlene Chambers, Public Relations Coordinator
Former Arkansas State University-Beebe student and Registered Nurse Tammy Berry has worked more than 30 years in the healthcare field, with the last nine years as a Utilization Case Manager at Unity Health in Searcy.
Berry, from Des Arc, graduated from ASU-Beebe in 1992 with an Associate Degree in Nursing and passed the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) with the State Board of Nursing.
Berry began her education journey taking classes at Memphis State University in 1982-1983, receiving her Licensed Practical Nursing certification at Crowley’s Ridge in 1982. In 1989, she began working as a charge nurse at Central Arkansas General Hospital (now Unity Health) in Searcy. “The hospital posted the opportunity to take nursing classes at ASU-Beebe,” said Berry. “They paid for my tuition and books and I agreed to work at the hospital for one year.” Berry said she signed up for courses, such as algebra and basic computer classes.
“The ASU-Beebe nursing instructors wanted nursing students to be well-rounded and thoroughly prepared for the nursing field. We were taught to be concerned with the whole care of the patient and be a conscientious caregiver,” said Berry. “These were fast-paced classes, and we were graded very strict, but fairly. We all successfully passed our state board exams.”
Over the years Berry’s family have all attended ASU-Beebe. Her husband Paul received an Applied Science in Electronics degree from ASU-Beebe Searcy Campus (formerly Foothills Vocational Technical Institute). “We are an ASU-Beebe family,” said Berry. “We were glad both daughters chose to attend ASU-Beebe and were active on campus as student Ambassadors.” Their daughter Laney Watkins is a history teacher at Bald Knob Public Schools and daughter Catherine Burton is Director of Advising and Learning at ASU-Beebe.
Berry has worked as a healthcare provider in areas such as acute rehabilitation, long-term care administrator, nursing home, cardiac care and almost all areas of the hospital. “Nursing is a career that can be used for many areas of healthcare,” she said. “I have really enjoyed the flexibility of nursing. If you do not want to work in direct patient care, you can explore other areas.”
As case manager at Unity Health, Berry said she advocates for the patient in working with insurance companies on denials and appeals regarding inpatient, outpatient and observation coverage decisions. In October 2019, Berry received the peer nominated Unity Health service award, based upon providing excellent healthcare service.
Berry continued her nursing education and certification over the years. She is a Certified Rehabilitation Registered Nurse (CRRN), certified as a Case Manager, and has been a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) instructor for the past 10 years.
“Being a nurse is a rewarding career field,” said Berry. “However, you will experience your worst moments, and best moments; you will laugh and cry; you will make friends and see friends die. Nursing is also multi-faceted, from the fast-paced career of the new nurse to the slowing down retiring nurse.”
Berry offered advice for future students: “If you are an adult learner, as I was, and concerned about taking classes, ASU-Beebe offers a great learning environment. If you need help, just ask. The faculty and staff are there to help you achieve success.”
“Our alumni are our strongest asset in communicating the value of ASU-Beebe. I am inspired by their stories,” said Rose Mary Jackson, Associate Vice Chancellor for Institutional Advancement. "We gladly share their stories of how ASU-Beebe has positively influenced them."
Arkansas State University-Beebe Alumni Stories is a project of the Alumni Association with the goal of sharing and preserving the ASU-Beebe historical and educational experiences of former students. If you are an alumni and would like to share your story, contact Institutional Advancement at (501) 882-8855.