Nurses make the biggest difference in patient care, at least in Nancy Krippel’s experience.
When Krippel, provost and vice president for academic affairs for Brenau University, was in the hospital during a long pregnancy, she most fondly remembered her nurse Rosemary, who went above and beyond her job description.
Four women exceptional nurses — Deborah Robinson Bailey, Deborah Kay Huckaby, Mary Martin and Amelia Malcom — go that extra mile, too.
They were honored for their work at the annual “Masters in the art of Nursing: Healers among us” program at Featherbone Communiversity and Brenau’s Whalen Auditorium on the east campus off U.S 129 near Interstate 985.
All four women had a different story to tell and talked about their love for learning and how their paths were not laid out for them.
Working with their mothers was something Bailey and Malcom shared in common. Malcom shared that she would get up and watch her mom put on her white pantyhose, uniform and hat at 4:30 a.m. most mornings.
“I think we all run from (nursing) for a while before we accept it. Nursing is very much a calling … for some of us, it’s in our genes,” Malcom said.
Bailey started her career at 14 years old in a psychiatric hospital where her mother also worked.
“It wasn’t a place you want to be at 14,” Bailey said.
By the end of Bailey’s high school years, she didn’t want anything to do with nursing after years of working in the hospital.
Instead, she wanted to be a basketball coach. A few years and some soul-searching later, Bailey decided to pursue her mother’s career, too — but didn’t get accepted to any nursing programs.
Fast forward to her career as an executive some years later and Bailey was pursuing bigger dreams. She got what she wanted but knew after the first day on the job that it wasn’t the right move.
Heather Roberts, 16, found that especially comforting.
Roberts doesn’t know what she wants to do when she grows up. She has a few years to decide since she’s a sophomore at East Hall High, but said she was relieved to hear that it’s OK to stumble and make mistakes from a successful adult like Bailey.
“I think my favorite part was when (Bailey) told us to get over our egos,” Roberts said.
Roberts said she was considering a medical career, and she was one of 10 students from East Hall High School to attend the program.
Senior Carla Gonzalez said the programs they attend like these teach them about career paths, like nursing, business, information technology or other fields they might be interested in. Information technology and nursing don’t seem like fields that go hand in hand, but Martin, one of the honorees, has made it so.
She was a practicing nurse for 39 years and held many jobs that eventually led to her current job as chief informatics officer for Northeast Georgia Health System. Informatics combines the skills and knowledge of nursing professionals with the information and communication know-how to make patient care better, easier and more accessible.
When she started out in her career life, infomatics wasn’t even an option. She knew she was called to nursing, so that’s where she started.
“A calling on your life is a big undertaking, but I had a deep desire to help people,” Martin said.
Martin liked fixing broken things. Whether that be a broken patient, a broken computer or a broken coworker in need, Martin said her main motivation was leaving things better than she found them.
Huckaby is a jack of all trades, too.
Huckaby also went through a stage of not knowing what to do. She moved 22 times, went to 17 schools (eight colleges), amounting to 39 years of schooling for the Athens woman.
Not only does she have a doctorate degree in nursing and ministry, but she also has her master’s in business administration, theology and divinity.
During her lifetime, she’s held 23 different jobs, everything from staff nurse to director of Athens Regional Medical Center, a position she kept for 20 years before quitting to pursue her interests in ministry.
Huckaby models her life on never giving up on passions. Sophomore student Samuel Waldron particularly related to this advice.
“You just have to go for what you are passionate about,” said Waldron, 16.