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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The thing separating twin nurses is five minutes and an inch

Nora Abou-Dabous
Pamela Johnson (left) and Patrice Irving stands in a exam room in the Health Center on Wednesday, Feb. 12, at City College in Santa Barbara, Calif. The twins work as nurses together.

A pair of identical twins decided to play an April Fools’ Day joke and switch places with one another in the fourth grade.

Patrice Irving and Pamela Johnson’s prank was foolproof for a few hours until a classmate told the teacher about the spoof.

“We have been best friends since birth. We were always very close and our paths kinda paralleled,” Johnson said. “I always thought that everyone should have a twin. I never feel lonely. You always have your buddy to understand.”

For virtually all their lives—from grade school though graduation at Loma Linda University—the sisters have had similar lifestyles.

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Over the past two and a half years, the pair has worked as registered nurses in the City College Student Health and Wellness Services.

“I think the staff looks at the schedule to see which one is working. When they are not together it’s easy to mix them up,” Patty Schuster, City College registered nurse, said.

Colleagues say the two are a perfect match. The sisters work on different days but once a month work side by side. Both look so similar that student patients and faculty can’t tell them apart.

“The students are in here for about 15 minutes. Patients have always thought we were each other. We have to explain that we’re identical twins,” Johnson said. “That usually freaks patients out a little bit. We have name tags but people still get confused.”

The sisters, with their blonde hair and piercing blue eyes, are often mistaken for one another. Both have strikingly similar appearances.

“We’ve always been blonde. You’d think that we want to change looks but never have,” Johnson said. “It’s just like seeing two of yourself. Sometimes we don’t even have to talk and I’ll know what my sister is thinking.”

Johnson is five minutes older and Irving is the shier of the two. Irving has a middle bangs hairstyle and Johnson is an inch taller. Both are vegetarians, got married and had children around the same age. But, try not to mix the giggly pair up.

City College is not the only job they’ve worked together. They were employed five years in the maternity ward at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

“Pam would work night shifts and I worked the day shift. Patients mixing us up happened probably once a week,” Irving said. “It’s great to know we are going through the stages of life together.”

For a majority of their lives they’ve been wired from birth. They have only lived long distance once.

“One time we were separated between California and Michigan for about three years straight,” Johnson said. “That was very difficult for us and it’s hard to be separate.”

The twins keep a strong family bond and often see another familiar face around campus. Irving’s daughter is a City College student. She usually visits her mother and aunt on the East Side of campus when they work.

Despite the twin’s physical similarities, Irving’s daughter can distinctly tell the difference between the two.

“It’s great because they have different personalities but so alike. But together both are hilarious and really complement each other,” Allison Irving, 18, City College business major, said. “I always thought it would be cool to have a twin too.”

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