DEVONA TUCKER, BSN, RN, LPN
Being a nurse, and especially working with the aging population, has been a calling for Devona Tucker, a certified nursing assistant instructor at Tri-County Technical College and a nurse at BrightStar Care.
“When I was growing up, I was around a lot of sick older individuals, and I wanted to help them feel better,” she recalled. “That feeling of helping others always stuck with me.”
Tucker started the licensed practical nurse program at the Oconee School of Practical Nursing as a senior in high school, finishing the program in 1996. She worked as an LPN in geriatrics and then went back to school at Tri-County Technical College to obtain her associate degree in nursing. She received her RN in 2005. She continued to work in geriatrics until 2014, then went to work on an orthopedic, trauma and spine unit in a hospital.
“I enjoyed my experiences while there,” she said. “I also started the bachelor of science in nursing program at Western Governors University while working on that unit and finished that program in 2018.” Her advice to aspiring nurses is to hold steadfast to their dreams: “Stick with the grueling hours of study – they do end. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. There will be days that will be hard on you mentally, physically and spiritually, but tomorrow is a new day.”
PEGGY O’HARRA, RN, BSN, CCRN
As a child, Peggy O’Harra was always told that she was just like her grandmother. Her grandmother was a nurse, and, for as long as O’Harra could remember, she wanted to be a nurse.
“Did being told I resemble my grandmother influence me to want to be a nurse, just like her? I think it might have. I just know I have never considered being anything else,” she said.
O’Harra has worked in critical care for over 30 years.
“I love the challenge of caring for critically ill patients and the joy of seeing them improve and get well,” she said.
On the other hand, O’Harra said she also enjoys being there for people who may not have a positive outcome.
“I feel honored to help care for patients and families who are going through the toughest moment in their life,” she sympathized. “I am there to support them during this time.”
O’Harra encouraged nurses to be open to learning new experiences.
“Seek out opportunities. Nursing changes every day. Commit to being a lifelong learner.”
MIMI FULLER, RN
Mimi Fuller, who currently works as nurse for BrightStar Care in Greer, has always considered herself a natural caregiver.
“As the oldest of five children, I learned early on how to help take care of my siblings,” she explained. “I watched my mother, a pediatric LPN, deal with different medical situations that arose in our family and among friends.”
In Fuller’s high school senior year, she decided to pursue nursing and applied and was accepted to nursing school – before she told anyone about her plans.
“I worked in the operating room for 40 years – 36 of those in anesthesia,” she said. “I left the profession about 12 years ago to help care for my aging parents and work in home health for special needs patients.”
Her parents have both since passed, but she continues to work in home health.
“If you are a true caregiver who loves to share your gifts and care for others, nursing is an excellent way to do so. The rewards of using your hands, heart and head for something greater than yourself are priceless,” she concluded.
ASHLEY COX, RN, BSN
Ashley Cox, now director of clinical services at Wren Hospice, admitted that as a child she loved to play nurse with her “Nanny.” In her senior year of high school, she firmly decided on a career path in nursing.
“As a child, I was around sickness, due to multiple family members having illnesses. I had grown up caring for others, so why not do what I love and what I was meant to do?”
She began her career in a long-term care facility as a nurse.
“I fell in love with caring for the geriatric population and working in a nursing home,” she said.
But, in early 2018, she ran into an old nursing school friend who told her about her job in hospice and the individualized care she was able to give her patients.
“A month later, I applied for a hospice RN case manager position, and, a month after that, I began working at Wren Hospice.”
She concluded, “I always loved caring for others and now, in their last days, I get to take those moments and help make them comfortable for this last transition in their lives. I believe in making sure that no matter the length of a person’s life that it is the quality of the life that matters, not the quantity.”