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Compassion, Care and Expertise: Hallmarks of the Nursing Profession


Debra Carlton, Brenda VanVooren, and Sheila Hoskins are all unique individuals. Where they grew up, their educational paths, what they enjoy doing for recreation and their preferences in music are all very different.

Yet they share some very significant similarities. Their friendly smiles that instantly put people at ease, their compassion for others, and their expertise and knowledge as high-performing registered nurses at Mississippi Valley Surgery Center bring them together.

“Nursing is very diverse profession. There are many options and specialty areas available,” says Michael Patterson, president and CEO of Mississippi Valley Surgery Center. “No matter the type or form of nursing, one thing is certain − patients turn to nurses for care, knowledge, and understanding.” 

In honor of nurses everywhere, the American Nursing Association (ANA) sets aside May 6-12 as National Nurses Week. We recently sat down with Debra, Brenda, and Sheila to learn why they chose a career in nursing, what keeps them passionate about their work and how advances in surgical procedures are positively impacting their profession.

Why did you become a nurse?
For Debra Carlton, the decision to become a nurse didn’t happen until she was well into her working career.

“I spent many years employed in the health care field as a medical assistant and a pharmacy technician, “says Debra. “I worked alongside great nurses for a long time. When I was ready to advance to a career as a registered nurse, they were so encouraging and supportive. I was excited to become one of them! A nursing team is like a family. We not only support and care for our patients, but we support and care for each other.”

Because Debra had so many strong role models in nursing, she strives to be one for the next generation.

“My next door neighbor is in nursing school. Whenever I see her, we talk about how rewarding and fulfilling nursing is as a profession,” says Debra. “I tell her to become a nurse if she wants to impact the lives of people in a positive way and be part of a team environment that brings out the best in you.”

What do you like most about being a nurse?

Brenda, a member of the surgery center nursing team for nearly seven years, says the aspects of nursing that require compassion are what truly inspire her.

“Caregiving is a big part of who I am,” says Brenda. “I selected a nursing job where my focus is helping patients and their families throughout the entire outpatient surgical process , from admitting to recovery. The ability to provide physical and psychological comfort is one of the best things about being a nurse.”

Brenda recalls a particular winter day when she made a big difference for a senior patient and his wife.

“Nursing doesn’t ever really stop if you’re passionate about it,” she says. “One very cold and icy day, I helped a patient’s wife to her car, scraped the ice off her windshield, and stayed with her until the car was toasty warm and ready for her husband. It’s important to be there for the family and the patient.”

How is the profession of nursing changing?
According to Sheila, who was a nurse in open heart surgical procedures before joining the surgery center team, advancements in minimally invasive procedures are changing nursing in a positive way.

“During minimally invasive procedures, surgeons use a variety of techniques to operate with less injury to the body. In general, it allows patients to recover faster and heal with less pain and scarring,” says Sheila. “Minimally invasive surgery is usually done on an outpatient basis. It’s scheduled in advance and managed by a team of experts — which means more peace of mind for patients and more one-on-one time between patients and nurses.”

Debra, Brenda and Sheila are just a few members of the expert nursing staff at Mississippi Valley Surgery Center in Davenport. For more information about the Mississippi Valley Surgery Center, visit www.mvhealth.net.

“With loyalty will I endeavor to aid the physician in his work, and devote myself to the welfare of those committed to my care.”
~ Excerpt from the Florence Nightingale pledge, a modified “Hippocratic oath” composed in 1893 as a tribute to nursing.

Nursing by the Numbers: What You Need to Know
There are many types of nurses and nursing jobs. While the practice of nursing is diverse, here are a few universal nursing facts:

  • Florence Nightingale first defined the nursing role and its emphasis on education. May 6-12 is designated by the American Nursing Association (ANA) to celebrate nurses and is intentionally the same week as Florence Nightingale’s birthday.
  • In the U.S., the ratio of registered nurses to doctors is 4:1.
  • The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment for registered nurses will grow faster than most occupations through 2018.
  • The average nurse walks four miles a day.

For more information about National Nurses Week, visit nursingworld.org/NationalNursesWeek.

Photo credit: EMPPhotography/iStock