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A Nurses Blog—A contagious nursing spirit

Bridget G. McNatt, RN

I cannot adequately express the gratitude and privilege I feel as a nurse working here at the Fayetteville VA Coastal Health Care System. However, my nursing journey and career began in my mind, in my mother's womb.

You might be wondering what I mean.

My mother and grandmother both worked in the medical industry, and I believe I acquired their contagious nursing spirit. Many members of my family have served and are veterans, as well as family members who are currently serving. Learning about the services and processes was one of the reasons I wanted to work for the Department of Veterans Affairs. 

After graduating from high school, I began working in the medical field in 1991 at an emergency hospital in Quincy, Florida. I also went to LPN school in Georgia. After working in pediatrics, psychiatry, medical-surgical, nursing home, peritoneal dialysis, endocrinology, primary care, gastrointestinal, trauma center, emergency medicine, and special needs children, I switched from the private sector to the Department of Veterans Affairs. As a nurse, I thought it was the greatest way for me to give back.

After several years of working with the VA, I felt that my contribution as an LPN had reached its limit and that with my RN degree, I would be able to accomplish more to care for the Veterans and my future goals. As a result, I attempted to return to school for a Registered Nursing degree several times but was unable to do so owing to the deaths of my mother and later my father. However, I resumed my studies after my university was placed on temporary alert, suggesting that it would lose its accreditation. As a result, because it had been so long, I resumed my RN studies. Despite this, the university was subsequently accredited.

When COVID surfaced, I was concerned about how I would complete my clinicals because several institutions in the area had halted programs comparable to mine. But I finished my program, went to Durham VA Health Care System for my nursing residency program for new grads, and then went back to school to get my bachelor's degree in nursing.

Now, I plan to continue my studies for my Master's in studies in Nursing, and I hope to educate other nurses as well as the entire VA staff on process improvement that will increase the quality of Veteran care in compliance with HRO standards in the future.

Lastly, my motto is to provide a smile because it will light up a room. As a VA nurse, I can give that and more to our Veterans as well as my fellow employees.

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