On December 18, National Twin Day celebrates the unique bonds that twin siblings have with one another. At AdventHealth, identical twin sisters hold the identical executive title of chief nursing officer.
As twins, Michele Johnson and her sister, Melissa Leonard, knew they would explore similar careers in health care at a young age, but neither expected their paths to be nearly as identical as their looks.
Johnson currently serves as chief nursing officer at AdventHealth Fish Memorial in Orange City, while Leonard serves in the same capacity at AdventHealth Apopka.
“We have done everything together nearly our whole lives. We grew up together in West Volusia, we went to school — both high school and college — together, and we both began our careers with AdventHealth. It’s really been a wild journey,” Johnson explained.
The two grew up in Deltona and first discovered their passion for health care in the sixth grade, after seeing a family member go through a medical experience. That passion grew when both Leonard and Johnson decided to pursue nursing degrees from Florida State University in Tallahassee. Leonard says their family was supportive of them exploring a career that could evolve and grow.
“We had a very loving support system around us. I think that helped us push forward more as we were narrowing down what kind of nurse we both would like to be,” Leonard said.
Following graduation, the two began their health care journey at AdventHealth Orlando in 1998 as nurses on the cardiac progressive care unit. Over the years, their experiences helped them to grow into managers, directors, and currently, chief nursing officers within the organization.
“I think we both are constantly looking to learn, so it’s nice to have someone who understands your mindset and your abilities that you can lean on and collaborate with,” Johnson said.
While the twins have grown into executive level roles, their love for health care is just as strong as their bonds of sisterhood.
“We are family, and having that support from your siblings is what we hope to pass on to our kids. They not only have us as parents to lean on, but their brothers and sisters and cousins as well,” Leonard said.
According to the National Day Calendar, every December 18, National Twin Day celebrates all the siblings who enjoy the unique connection because they share a birthday. “Whether fraternal or identical, twins share everything right from the beginning,” it reads. “While their personalities may be different, they often know what the other is going to say before the words are spoken. Distance isn’t an issue either. Twins manage to stay connected across the country or around the globe.”