National Nurses Week, held May 6-12, honors nurses for the skill and compassion they show patients and families every day.
Regional One Health is proud to honor our dedicated nurses as they provide lifesaving care and protect our community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As we celebrate Nurses Week, some members of our team shared what inspired them to join the nursing field – and why they have found it to be not just a career, but a calling.
Every May, National Nurses Week honors the essential role nurses play in providing hope and healing. With nurses on the COVID-19 frontlines, Regional One Health is proudly celebrating our dedicated team and sharing what drives their exceptional, compassionate care.
We asked a simple question: Why are you a nurse?
We received many answers, but with a common theme – nursing is not just a career, but a calling to serve others in times of need.
Many of our nurses are inspired by family. As Vonetta Williams remarked, “Watching a loved one fight for her life and lose her battle gave me determination. I wanted to find a way to help.”
Michelle Antionette Sales and Faye Williams-Smith both changed career paths after caring for ailing family members, while Ruthie Huey wanted to give patients the empathy she received after losing an infant daughter and having a son in the NICU: “I hope to guide them through this journey as gently as I was guided by some amazing people who inspired me to become a nurse,” Huey said.
Tina Gross is inspired by the respectful care she saw patients receiving when she visited the nursing home where her aunt was a care provider, and Angela Lamar and Jessica Thompson both took note of how nurses made their family members smile during tough times. “My grandfather always talked about what the nurses did for him and that he would never forget their kindness. That was the lasting impression I wanted to make,” Thompson said.
Chandra Boykins’ career also honors her grandfather, who had three hip surgeries due to sickle cell disease yet pushed through for his family. “I wanted to care for him when he was ready to rest, and I am proud to say he lived his best last years with me caring for him,” she said.
Our nurses say they approach every shift with the goal of making a positive difference in someone’s life. Ruth Plotkin Shumaker noted, “If we put the patient at the center of all we do we are doing what is best.”
Theresa Traylor’s personal experience – suffering acute appendicitis at age 13 – sparked her interest. “I watched the nurses and asked about what they were doing,” she said. “The word got around that they would need to explain everything to me, or I was not going to cooperate!”
Felicia Turner also learned from her own medical scare after a traumatic birth experience. She remembers her fear and wants to save other patients from feeling the same by offering personalized care. “I want as many patients as possible to feel someone cares and have a positive ending to a negative or surprising beginning,” she said.
For Pamela Finnie, motherhood brought inspiration: “When my son played outside with friends, anyone that was injured would be found at my house for a compress, dressing, bandage or kind words. My desire to take care of others came naturally,” she said.
That natural sense of empathy drew many of our nurses to the field. As Antoinette Flowers said, “My ‘why’ is to touch the hearts and minds of my patients and families, to save a life that once thought it could not be saved, to spread love and healing through a gift I was blessed to have.”
Markesia Harris remarked, “Being sick, in pain and misunderstood is an awful combination, but I understand, I care, and I respect our patients.”
That innate compassion leads to exceptional care. Beverly Barber described treating patients “with the utmost respect, concern, responsibility, reliability and passion;” and Ruth Plotkin Shumaker added, “If we put the patient at the center of all we do we are doing what is best.”
It makes for a fulfilling career. “I love to see people getting healed by the power of medicine,” Catrina Pope noted, while Rhonda Hall, Karen Elliott and Carolyn Mallett described finding a sense of purpose from making a real difference in times of crisis.
Nurses are at patients’ bedside during their worst moments. “Our smiles and tears for our patients are real because we are there all the way through their pain and suffering,” noted Yetende Olubajo.
Nancy Wright noted, “I get so much fulfillment every time I see a smile on my patients’ face or the faces of their family members. My philosophy as a nurse is I should generously give care that cannot always cure but that always matters, because that always makes a difference.”
Brittney Bowling added, “You cannot put a price tag on being able to witness a life being saved or the hug from a family member who knows you went above and beyond.”
While a variety of backgrounds led our nurses to their careers – Henry Burchfield discovered his passion for helping others while in the Army, Jerrika Leaks was inspired during a middle school job fair, Angie Underhill found she could use her sociology background when patients need extra love and care – all say they truly found a calling, even if it isn’t an easy one.
Jodie Bond noted, “Being a nurse is not glamorous, it’s physically and mentally exhausting. In return, I’m lucky enough to care for patients and families and share in the joy through the pain.”
Valerie Stafford and Yetunde Olubajo agree.
Olubajo remarked, “Our smiles and tears for our patients are real because we are there all the way through their pain and suffering;” while Stafford noted, “The patients I have encountered have made a great impact on my life and let me know my work is not in vain.”
“I am glad God gave me this gift,” added Denise Augusto, “to care for the sick and to watch them come back from the brink of death, their smile when you walk into the room, to help the helpless, to be with someone when they take their last breath when they are alone.”
After four decades as a nurse, Rebecca Wade-Siano still shares that view. “I want people to know that I am here to listen, to offer advice or just to be silent. We need that at times,” she said. “When I die I want my epitaph to say, ‘She made a difference.’”
Regional One Health celebrates all our nurses and the positive difference they make in patients’ lives. To help support the world-class care they provide, visit regionalonehealthfoundation.org.