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May 2019 NCNA Member Spotlight, Sylvia Beasley, RN

Sylvia Beasley, RN, a retired nurse of 50+ years, has a story that will be sure to bring tears to your eyes. Her story is one of strength, endurance and several helping hands on her journey to becoming a nurse.

From the time Sylvia was about 10 years old she knew she wanted to be a nurse; she’s always had a love for people and a need to be helpful, especially when they were sick or unable to help themselves. She grew up in a family that did not have money, however, and thought her dream may never come true because she could not afford to go to nursing school. Then, in her teens a high school guidance counselor named Farmer Smith, walked into her life.

While she was in school, she worked for Mr. Smith for one period each day. He got to know her and witnessed her dedication and work ethic. He knew she wanted to become a nurse, so he took it upon himself to present her situation to his Rotary Club. Sylvia’s dreams were answered when they provided her with a full scholarship for the 3-year nursing diploma at Rex Hospital! Mr. Smith’s only request of her was that she finish the training and not drop out like others had done in the past.

“I promised Mr. Smith I would, and I kept my promise…even though I got married in my Senior year and graduated from Nursing School eight months pregnant,” Sylvia told NCNA.

Her nursing director was against marriage, and even more so against student nurses being pregnant. She made sure Sylvia was put on night duty on the pediatric ward so the public would not see the pregnant student nurse. A private duty nurse saw what was going on and tailored Slyvia’s uniform aprons to add another panel of fabric so that her growing belly wouldn’t show as much.

Because of Sylvia’s pregnancy, the nursing director did not want her to walk across the stage with her class to be pinned on graduation night. Just as Mr. Smith had done, another helping hand made her dream of walking across the stage possible. The head nurse on pediatrics provided her with a white maternity uniform and told her to attend the graduation despite what the nursing director wanted. So, she did! They would not let her walk on stage, but she was pinned in front of the stage in the auditorium.

“Everyone cheered because they wanted me to graduate…and I did…with my class,” Sylvia told us. She graduated on August 11th, 1960, and her baby girl was born on September 20th.

Many years later, Sylvia was working in the ER at Rex and recalls being notified that a gentleman who had a heart attack would be coming to her care that day. “God works in mysterious ways and of course my patient was Mr. Smith,” Sylvia shared. His wife came into the room and said, “Farmer, look up and see who is taking care of you.” He recognized her and smiled so sweetly. In this defining moment in her life, she had the joy and privilege to take care of the very person who made it possible for her to go to Nursing School and become a nurse.

Sylvia's Advice for a New Nurse: 

Take care of your patients using the “Golden Rule: do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” Learn protocols, procedures and practice developing skills with reliable knowledge knowing who you are working with and what you can contribute to the team. Most important is to assess your patient and view your patient as a whole - mentally, spiritually, physically. The heart and soul of nursing is caring and compassion and seek to do whatever you can do in each patient’s case.​

NCNA thanks you for being a part of our community and for your passion for nursing, Sylvia!

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Sylvia's Advice for a New Nurse:  Take care of your patients using the “Golden Rule: do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” Learn protocols, procedures and practice developing skills with reliable knowledge knowing who you are working with and what you can contribute to the team. Most important is to assess your patient and view your patient as a whole - mentally, spiritually, physically. The heart and soul of nursing is caring and compassion and seek to do whatever you can do in each patient’s case.