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Nurses get their turn in the spotlight
Master Nurse program set at Brenau University
0502NURSEShelen rabon
Helen Rabon


Keeta P. Wilborn, Brenau University’s Department of Nursing chairwoman, explains the origins of the Masters in the Art of Nursing program.

Master Nurses honored

When: 9 a.m. Tuesday

Where: Featherbone Communiversity auditorium, 999 Chestnut St. SE, Gainesville

Contact: 770-533-7398


Master Nurses:

Gail Adam

Residence: North Hall
What inspired nursing?: “I was fresh out of high school and ... knew I liked to be around people and help people, so naturally I was drawn to health care.”
Education: Brenau Women’s College, bachelor’s degree in nursing; University of Georgia, master’s degree in education
Workplace: Past 20 years, nursing educator at Lanier Technical College
On Master Nurses honor: “Nursing is an area that is not highly recognized. It’s always the doctors who get the glory. Just to be recognized as someone who makes a difference is significant.”

Michael Beasley

Residence: North Hall
What inspired nursing?: “I thought I was interested in an electronics career, but then (my wife and I) got the idea together that I could use (Veterans Affairs) benefits to go to school. My idea was to go into nursing with her.”
Education: Through the U.S. Navy, he worked in health care. He graduated in 1979 from the Hall School of Nursing, now Brenau’s nursing program.
Workplace: Northeast Georgia Medical Center for 26 years.
On Master Nurses honor: “Being part of an inaugural event, that’s exciting. I have a little fear of (public speaking). Other than that, I’m excited. I’m honored.”

Debbie Callahan

Residence: Cleveland
What inspired nursing?: She said she was drawn into the field through a health occupations course at North Hall High School. She also saw her mother working as a nurse. “She actually tried to talk me out of nursing,” Callahan said.
Education: Lanier Technical College, license practical nursing. She later became a registered nurse.
Workplace: Past 33 years, Northeast Georgia Medical Center’s emergency room
On Master Nurses honor: “I’m blown away. I’m (one of) two RNs in the medical center that has been put up for this award. It’s an honor; I can’t believe it.”

Sharon Chalmers

Residence: Lawrenceville
What inspired nursing?: Nursing found her, rather than the opposite. A college official who thought she might have a knack for nursing introduced her to the program’s chief administrator. “I didn’t really know what nursing was until I was introduced to it.”
Education: DeKalb Community (now Georgia Perimeter) College, associate degree, nursing; Emory University, master’s degree, nursing
Workplace: Past 10 years, nursing instructor at Brenau University. She also works at a community clinic for uninsured patients in Gwinnett County.
On Master Nurses honor: “It’s hard to believe that my colleagues, friends and nurses I know in the community have identified me.”

Jeanine Mundy Jackson

Residence: Oakwood
What inspired nursing?: “I always wanted to be a nurse, from the time I was a little girl.”
Education: Bachelor’s degree, nursing, Emory University; master’s degree, neonatal practitioner, Emory
Workplace: She has worked at The Longstreet Clinic (previously Northeast Georgia Pediatric Group) since 1994.
On Master Nurses honor: “There’s something different, almost intangible, about what we do as nurses to deliver the caring piece (of science).”

Helen Rabon

Residence: Murrayville
What inspired nursing?: “From my earliest memories, (nursing) was something I knew I wanted to do. There was never really any other thing that attracted me. I just wanted to be able to help people stay healthy or ... regain as much health as they could.”
Education: Bachelor’s degree, nursing, Brenau University; master’s degree, nursing, Georgia State University, Atlanta
Workplace: Past eight years, nurse practitioner in oncology, The Longstreet Clinic
On master nurses honor: “I think when you’re doing your day-to-day work, you (feel) you can be kind of invisible. To be selected as a person to be honored is very humbling.”

Penny Robertson

Residence: Oakwood
What inspired nursing?: “I needed a new college. I was getting a little burned out on teaching. Nursing seemed to fall into play because I had been an (emergency medical technician) before.”
Education: With bachelor’s and master’s degree in physical education, she earned her nursing degree from Brenau University in 1993.
Workplace: Since 1991, she has worked at Northeast Georgia Medical Center. She has taught nursing at Lanier Technical College since 1994.
On Master Nurses honor: “I’m completely honored. I was very surprised ... but I much appreciate the honor (as) I have a connection to (Brenau).”

Betsy Ross

Residence: Flowery Branch
What inspired nursing?: “All through high school, I worked as a candy striper. ... From there, I was always interested in helping people in the medical profession. I always knew I wanted to be a teacher or nurse.”
Education: Brenau University, nursing degree
Workplace: Almost 19 years, Northeast Georgia Medical Center, cardiology department
On Master Nurses honor: “I was kind of surprised to be chosen as one of eight but excited about it.”

They often work long, strenuous hours and deal with impatient patients, and yet don’t seem to get the same attention as doctors.

But Tuesday morning, the spotlight will shine on nurses.

A Masters in the Art of Nursing committee, formed in the likeness of the Warren Featherbone Communiversity’s Master Teachers program, has chosen eight top area nurses for its inaugural class, which will be recognized at 9 a.m. at the Featherbone Communiversity on Chestnut Street.

The group comprises Michael Beasley and Debbie Callahan of Northeast Georgia Health System; Gail Adam and Penny Robertson, Lanier Technical College; Jeanine Mundy Jackson and Helen Rabon, The Longstreet Clinic; and Sharon Chalmers and Betsy Ross, Brenau University.

All have practiced alongside doctors and other health care workers, and a few are passing along their skills and knowledge, as teachers, to a younger group of aspiring nurses.

Keeta P. Wilborn, Brenau University’s Department of Nursing chairwoman, said the program got started after a conversation last summer with Gus Whalen, the Communiversity’s founder, about the Master Teachers program.

“We really haven’t had a big celebration in Hall County to honor the nurses who practice here,” Wilborn said.

The idea formed to recognize nurses who “exhibited excellence in their profession to come and talk to us about what it is that they do and how they’re able to maintain their practice,” she added.

The event also will serve to usher in National Nurses Week, which is observed May 6-12. Brenau, which maintains a nursing program as part of its School of Health and Science, invited other interested parties — such as the Northeast Georgia Health System — to form a committee.

The committee’s first task was developing characteristics of a master nurse. The group determined that these nurses must:

  • Demonstrate a deep understanding of nursing and health care.
  • Hold high expectations of themselves and others.
  • Possess a passion for improving the quality of life of clients and families and affecting changes in health care delivery.
  • Inspire, facilitate and model excellence in caring with a unique ability to connect with people.
  • Model confidence, competence and courage in the delivery of nursing care.
  • Engage in passionate service to the community as learners, educators and caregivers.
  • Respect diversity among individuals and the rights of individuals to make choices.

Then, the group asked Northeast Georgia Health System, Lanier Technical College, Longstreet Clinic and Brenau to each identify two top nurses. Each group was given a March 19 deadline to submit their selections, along with a letter and short biographical sketch.

“We expect to expand that a little next year,” Wilborn said. “But this is our inaugural year, so we kind of kept it very local and close to home.”

At Tuesday’s event, the nurses will talk about why they chose nursing as a profession.

“We have a very broad spectrum of nurses portrayed,” Wilborn said.

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