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Nurse honored with lifetime achievement award

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Barbara Wirz receives her Florence Nightingale Lifetime Achievement Award.[/caption]

When nursing students come from Rolla Technical Center for clinicals at Rolla Presbyterian Manor, they are usually assigned to work with Barbara Wirz. As daytime charge nurse in health care, it’s Barbara’s job to usher the students through a few weeks of real-world experience.

Barbara does more than have these future nurses follow her around. Before long they’re interacting with residents, learning to distribute medications, and participating in treatments. “I’ve had several tell me they do more hands-on work here than in other clinical settings, even at the hospital,” Barbara said.

Because of her mentorship and her willingness to share her experience, Barbara was honored this summer with the Florence Nightingale Lifetime Achievement Award from the Technical Center. For the past four years, the award has acknowledged a professional nurse who has made an impact in nursing and made numerous contributions to the field of nursing, in appreciation of their time serving others.

“I was surprised, I really was,” Barbara said. “It does kind of give you the feeling you’re at least doing something positive.” Barbara has worked at Presbyterian Manor for six years. She began her health care career as an EMT and paramedic, but after breaking her leg she turned to nursing. She got her LPN in 1995 and earned her RN nine years later. For 20 years she worked in the hospital, in departments from the emergency room to ambulatory surgery.

Back in her ambulance days, Barbara “swore” she would never be able to handle working in long-term care. But shortly after she joined our team, she said, she fell in love. “You get very attached to the residents. It makes a lot of difference, especially when you can see them get better and move to assisted living or go home.”

After Barbara received her award in July, we celebrated with an ice cream social at Presbyterian Manor. Although she didn’t expect the recognition, it confirms what she often tells her students and the CNAs: “You never know who is watching you. It will come back on you, good or bad.”

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