Rectorite wins Nurse of the Year honor

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

There are few professions which have an impact on the lives of so many people as that of a nurse. Traditionally, nurses hold the position of being the first line in helping others overcome their medical challenges. People trust nurses with their very lives and those of their family.

To be recognized as being among the very best in such a vital field shows a high level of personality and dedication.

Such is the case with Paula Hodge of Rector. Hodge has been named the Health Management Association's (HMA) Nurse of the Year. Hodge, an RN, works in the Obstetrics Department at Twin Rivers Regional Medical Center in Kennett.

To qualify for the award, a nurse must have been recognized as one of four winners of the Nurse of the Quarter award at one of HMA's 56 hospitals. The chief executive officer of each hospital then must select one of the Nurses of the Quarter to recommend for Nurse of the Year. From there, the HMA corporate committee examines all the nominations and determines who will be the recipient of the prestigious award.

Hodge said she learned she would be receiving the award early last month. She was taken aback by the experience.

"It made me feel honored," Hodge said. "I'm actually a little embarrassed. I'm quite certain there's somebody more deserving."

Hodge was presented with the award by HMA president and chief executive officer Gary Newsome during a special ceremony Feb. 26 at Kennett. She also received a framed copy of the advertisement HMA ran featuring her checking on the newborn babies in the Obstetrics unit.

Hodge says she enjoys her work. She has worked with labor and delivery for the last 17 years.

"I like being there with the babies. I enjoy helping those people get through the process of delivery and getting their kids home. It's wonderful to see those families grow."

Hodge said she knew she wanted to be a nurse while she was a student at Marmaduke High School. In fact, she did a research paper on nursing her senior year. She began her career as an LPN, working four years before deciding to continue her education and become an RN. She received her degree from Arkansas State University and now has been a nurse for 21 years.

"I knew I wanted to be a nurse. I knew that was the career for me, and I set about making it happen."

Though her profession requires her to work nights, Hodge says she enjoys spending time with her children Monica, 17, and Jake, 13, both students at Marmaduke High School. She takes care to set aside time to spend with them.

"My family is very important to me. I've always had excellent family support."

Hodge says she is happy with her work and plans to continue with business as usual.

"I like what I do. I think that's so important, especially when you work a schedule like nurses do. If you don't enjoy your job, you're not where you're supposed to be. I'm fortunate that I have a job which I enjoy."

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