Pulse: Nurses have many reasons to be thankful

By Laura Raines, 
Pulse editor

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, we asked some Georgia nurses what made them thankful for their profession. As you can imagine, we got a cornucopia of answers — no two alike. We’d be willing to bet that you could add to the list.

Marcia Bishop (left) and Kelly McDonald are members of the Angel II Neonatal Transport team.  Photo by Barry Williams, AJC Special.

Marcia Bishop (left) and Kelly McDonald are members of the Angel II Neonatal Transport team. Photo by Barry Williams, AJC Special.


“In obstetrics, I loved being the first one to hold a newborn baby, and in other situations, I’ve been the last person to touch a dying patient and his grieving family. I’m thankful for the lives I’ve touched and the people I’ve helped.” – Barbara R. Johnson, MSN, MBA, RN, Manager of Clinical Education, Kaiser Permanente of Georgia. Age: 60 (34 years as a nurse).

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“I’ve been fascinated with babies since my sister had her first child when I was six, so neonatal nursing is the perfect job for me. But I’m also thankful that nursing allowed me to take care of my parents at the end of their lives.

“My father had COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease] with complications, and diabetes and was on about 10 different medications. And my mother was also very ill. It was like a geriatric ICU at my house, but I could handle it. My mom was able to die at home in her bed. I wouldn’t [trade] anything for that.” – Marcia Bishop, MS, RN-C, NP-BC, Program manager, Angel II Neonatal Transport team, Grady Memorial Hospital and other hospitals. Age: 52 (30 years as a nurse).

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“I’m so grateful that Northside gave me a position in Quality Improvement, where I abstract data that helps patients. I’m thankful that nursing offers many paths.”
– Stan Whitmore, Quality Improvement, Northside Hospital in Atlanta. Age: 52 (26 years as nurse).

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“I’m grateful to have chosen a profession that suited me so well. I have always found nursing to be exciting and interesting, professionally and personally.

“At a crossroads in my life, I was able to switch to HIV/AIDs nursing, and it was where I was meant to be. I’m grateful to have made a difference in thousands of lives, to help people die with dignity and to help them live longer and have productive lives. I’m very grateful for the hope that came with new therapies so that people are living longer.” – Carla Johnson, RN, Director of Continuum of Care and Education, Grady Health System Infectious Disease Program. Age: 55 (33 years as a nurse).

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“The saying, ‘Once a nurse, always a nurse’ is certainly true for me. Even in retirement and living in a retirement community, I am frequently asked for advice. I am so grateful that my education has afforded me a lifelong ability to share my knowledge and skills.” – Betty S. Daniels, RN, MSN, Retired. Age: 79 (45 years as a nurse).

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“I’m thankful for the fulfillment I get with nursing. It’s such a rewarding job. I’m also thankful to work in a facility where I’d want my friends and family to come if they needed help, because I know they’d get excellent care.

“In this economic time, I’m also grateful to have job security.

“Even more important, nursing is always challenging, always interesting and never boring. I get up in the morning knowing that something new will be happening and that we can make a difference in people’s lives.”
Rose Pope, RN-C, Cardiology unit, Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta. Age: 62 (40 years as a nurse).

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“I graduated in May from Georgia College & State University. Nursing isn’t your typical college experience. It’s intense, and I was thankful to be accepted into a program that only takes 50 [students] per semester.

“I knew it was what I wanted to do. Most of the Atlanta hospitals weren’t hiring new grads this summer, but I had worked as a nurse extern on the oncology floor here, and they offered me a job after I passed my boards.

“I’m very thankful for that and for the opportunity to help oncology patients during a very difficult time in their lives. I’m even more thankful that my patients trust me.”
– Paige Winzeler, RN, BSN, Medical oncology, Northside Hospital in Atlanta. Age: 22 (Five months as a nurse).

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“I’m thankful for the families I get to serve as a neonatal transport nurse. When my pager goes off, I thrive on being able to meet any situation because of my training. It’s a good, strong feeling to know that you can care for tiny, very sick babies and take them to get help.

“So many people don’t enjoy their jobs. I’m passionate about mine, and [I] love to learn.” – Kelly McDonald, RN-C, BSN, Angel II Neonatal Transport team, Grady Memorial Hospital and other hospitals. Age: 36 (12 years as a nurse).

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“I’m so glad Northside gave me a chance, and I feel lucky to be in a profession where, with a minimal amount of training, you can re-enter at the same level where you left off. I moved a lot with my husband in the military and always had a good job.” – Peggy Foley, RN, BSN, MSN, Cardiology department, Northside Hospital in Atlanta. Age: 55 (33 years as nurse).

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Vonshelia Ward (left) and Sonya Harden are nurses at Southwood OB/GYN, Kaiser Permanente of Georgia. Photo by Barry Williams, AJC Special.

Vonshelia Ward (left) and Sonya Harden are nurses at Southwood OB/GYN, Kaiser Permanente of Georgia. Photo by Barry Williams, AJC Special.


“I’m thankful to be an advocate for my patients, to be their voice or to explain things they don’t understand. I’ve delivered lots of babies and [have] enjoyed teaching women about their bodies in childbirth classes. Being a nurse has been a joy and a journey.” – Vonsheila Ward, RN, BSN, Clinical supervisor, Southwood OB/GYN, Kaiser Permanente of Georgia. Age: 45 (21 years as a nurse)

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“I love being there for the children and their families. This is what God gave me the ability to do. It’s my calling. I’m thankful for the opportunity to serve God in my nursing.” – Patricia Robinson Tate, RN, MSN, CNS, Angel II Neonatal Transport team for Grady Hospital and other hospitals. Age: 50 (28 years as a nurse).

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“Mercy is my spiritual gift, so my nursing goes beyond what I do in the hospital. It allows me to teach CPR classes, serve food and play Mrs. Claus to children for our homeless ministry at Wheat Street Baptist Church.

“I can also respond as a congregational nurse to emergencies of fellow church members. I’m so thankful God gave me the gift of mercy and hospitality, and that nursing is a perfect fit.” – Trina D. Pitts, MS, RN,
Senior manager, Clinic Operation, Internal Medicine, Emory University Hospital Midtown. Age: 51 (31 years as a nurse).

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“I chose nursing for its flexibility and because I love helping others. I’m thankful that this profession offers me such a wide range of opportunities and workplaces: bedside nursing, forensics, education, administration.

“Right now, I love working with surgical patients, and I hope I’m an asset. There’s a lot of educating in this job and I’m thankful for the interaction I have with patients and their families.” – Rebecca Daniel, RN, Medical bariatric surgical unit, DeKalb Medical in Decatur.
Age: 26 (Almost four years as a nurse).

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“When I grew up you could either be a secretary, a teacher or a nurse. I couldn’t type, [I] didn’t want to be in school forever, so at 17 I set out to Atlanta to become a nurse.

“Once I started my clinicals, I fell in love with nursing. It has been very fulfilling to be a patient caregiver for so many years, and inspiring to watch young nurses start their careers and mature into it.

“Nurses have been my extended family. I’m thankful to have met so many wonderful people — both patients and co-workers.” — Jane Pate, RN, Supervisor, evening shift, Emory University Hospital Midtown. Age: 70 (50 years as a nurse).

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“I’m thankful that nursing allows me to make a difference in the lives and health of children. This is my niche, and I’m thankful to be able to keep growing in it.” – Heather Richard, BSN, RN, Manager, cardiac step-down unit, Children’s Healthcare 
of Atlanta. Age: 33 (11 years as a nurse).

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“I love babies and working with people, and mother/baby nursing lets me do both. I also love it when I’m out in the community and one of my patients says, ‘That’s my nurse.’

“It gives me such a sense of pride.” -- Sonya Harden, LPN, Surgical coordinator, Southwood OB/GYN, Kaiser Permanente of Georgia. Age: 41 (20 years as a nurse).

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