Tell us about your current professional position, its responsibilities, and your accomplishments as an individual and team.
I started my career as a registered nurse in 1977. I have been employed by SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital for more than 33 years. I became the go-to nurse for scrubbing and circulation of trauma, abdominal transplant and large vascular procedures. My expertise in these areas positioned me to be promoted to abdominal transplant specialty nurse. While in its infancy, I was involved in pioneering the liver transplant program to be one of the highest-ranked and most successful organ transplant programs in St. Louis. I continued in this position for over 15 years, all while serving our country as an officer in the U.S. Army Reserve.
In 2009 I was rewarded MVP over surgical services as well as MVP over all nurses in the hospital – all in the same day.
Now I call myself semi-retired, working two days a week and taking more than 170 hours of call per month.
Why you get up and go to work every day? What motivates you?
The staff, surgeons, and anesthesiologists are my second family. My transplant surgeons were there when I had open heart surgery.
We work long hours together, but they are happy and loving hours. When I run into a patient and they remember me for being kind or hear a resident or medical student say, “I’m glad you are in my room” – my day is made.
I consider myself blessed to be given the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of patients, my SLU family, and the family I love at home.
Are their previous work experiences in health care we should know about?
The first 10 years of my nursing career I was like “Gulliver’s Travels,” starting at CMC as a floor nurse only to leave there and return to St. Louis State Hospital, where I had worked as a student caring for hydrocephalic babies. In a later year I would find my way back there to work in their community placement program.
In 1978 Barnes Hospital was my next stop. This was where I received my training to work in the surgical suites. I worked at Lindell Hospital with some of the best African-American surgeons in St. Louis, long gone but not forgotten. I was also there again when it became Vencor for vent-dependent patients. It was nothing for nurses to work two jobs.
I was ADON (assistant director of nursing) in several LTC (long-term care) facilities. In the late ‘80s I helped with the opening and operating of a RCF (residential-care) facility in the Central West End area. It’s still there.
Is there anything about your education you would like to emphasize?
I’m a Vashon graduate with an associate’s degree in nursing from St. Louis Community College at Forest Park. I can’t give you any more degrees; I didn’t feel that would change what I wanted to do in my life. I took the course with Caldwell/Gundaker for a real-estate license – again, a service that involved people.
Please tell us about any important mentors or leaders who guided you.
I was a teenager when my mother went back school to become a LPN (licensed practical nurse). She loved caring for others and was my inspiration to become a nurse. We were blessed to have a father that works hard every day.
Please tell us about any personal or family matters you would like to share.
I have one amazing daughter and two sons that don’t forget to call or come to see their mother and four grandchildren. I’m a member of Church on the Rocks in St. Charles.