In celebration of National Nurses Week, we here at APCO gathered a few stories about our favorite nurses. As it turns out, many of them happened to be our mothers. Join us in celebrating the amazing men and women on the front lines of medicine by sharing your own memories in the Comments section below.
My Mom, Imogene James, was a hospital RN for about 10 years in Cumberland, M.D., and a high-school nurse for another 15 years in Hampton, Va. As a school nurse, she provided medical and psychological support to thousands of teenagers and remains, to this day the most popular person ever to work at that high school. – Rich James
My mom, Maureen Carr, is the most compassionate, hard-working woman I know. When I was young, she was a school nurse in Salem, Mass. Kids simply adored her, and she did so much more for them than put band-aids on scraped knees. She was invested in the health and well-being of the students – and faculty and staff members. In fact, early in her career she saved the life of a custodian who went into cardiac arrest in the school cafeteria by administering CPR. By the time I was a teenager, Maureen was head nurse for the entire school department and started the first-ever teen parent center at the public high school, a huge accomplishment that she had to really advocate for. By the time I was ready to graduate from high school, my mother was ready to graduate from school herself. She studied, while working full time, to become a pediatric nurse practitioner. Today, she sees about 20 kids a day in a private pediatrics practice north of Boston, works as a pediatric NP at the local hospital two days a week, and teaches clinical to nursing students one day a week. When she’s not working, she is still acting as a nurse and medical consultant to family and friends. It’s not uncommon for her to be “checking ears” at her house when a neighbor’s kid has an earache. She’s simply the best! – Katie Payne
I’m not sure how old I was when I first contracted strep throat, probably 9 or 10, but I do remember the discomfort. It was during my first throat culture (a particularly difficult thing to endure as a child) that I was introduced to Judy. Her laugh was contagious, and her approach to medical care was both humorous and comforting. I remember gagging severely during the throat swab, to which I’m sure she made a passing joke and then showed me the process she would take to submit the culture. She was confident, methodical, professional and nurturing, assuring me that I was in good hands. Unfortunately, my encounters with strep throat became more severe and frequent over the next couple of years, eventually reaching the point that I would complete a round of antibiotics and days later revisit the doctor’s office to receive another positive diagnosis. With each visit came the promise of time to catch up and laugh with my friend, Judy. After months of near-constant illness, it was decided that I should have my tonsils removed. Years have passed since my tonsillectomy, which successfully ended my battle with “strep,” and my memory of that time of life has faded significantly. However, the memories that remain are not ones of illness, pain or frustration. Instead, they are full of fondness, friendship and respect, for my nurse, Judy. – Rachel Allen
I’ve been fortunate to have had a lot of great nurses in my life (because, let’s face it, nurses are awesome and should be recognized all year, not just over one week), but I think the one I have to give the most props to is my mom, Glenda Ring. I was a sick kid, and having a nurse as a mother I think probably saved my life on more than one occasion. She knew what drugs I should and shouldn’t take, she knew when I was really sick or when I was just whining, and she knew who and what questions to ask. At the same time, she managed to raise all of her five children and work full time as a geriatric nurse in local nursing facilities, as a supervisor and then psychiatric nurse in our urban county hospital, where she often operated without enough staff or resources to serve the massive needs of the community. My mom also donated one of her kidneys to me when I was 7 years old, which allowed me to have as normal of a life as possible despite my chronic illness. Although the kidney I received from my mom ultimately succumbed to chronic rejection, and she clearly couldn’t give me her other one despite offering, she was there for me throughout my late teens/early 20s when I was once again on dialysis and waiting for a transplant. She’s the best nurse I’ve ever had. – Priscilla Vanderveer
I can remember when I received my first shot as a three-year old (at least my first memorable one). The nurse came up to me with the needle and I literally kicked her so hard in the stomach that she fell on the ground and hit her back against the back wall. I saw pain on her face, but she got back up, administered the shot – I stopped crying after realizing that it was just a pinch. She was a true trooper! – Marc Parich
One of my favorite aunts, Susan Whittaker, was a labor and delivery nurse who flew with Life Flight (helicopter ambulance) in Utah. As a kid, she was my hero, flying around the Wasatch mountains saving lives. She eventually left the practice and adrenaline to head to Washington, D.C., as an aide to Senator Orrin Hatch the and later the American Nurses Association. Trading her rotor wings for frequent flier miles, she went from state to state helping craft meaningful legislation to protect caregivers and patients alike. She maintained hero status in my eyes throughout her career and taught me what it means to be a good patient: Have high expectations of doctors, nurses and practice staff, and be prepared to be an advocate for yourself. – Bryce Whittaker