Thirty-two students graduating with B.S. degrees in nursing were honored this week in a recognition ceremony sponsored by Lander University's William Preston Turner School of Nursing.
The featured speaker for the event, held in the Josephine B. Abney Cultural Center Auditorium, was Dr. Amber Lee Walston, a 2009 graduate of Lander's nursing program who works as a pediatric neurologist for the Greenville Hospital System. She urged the graduates to be advocates for their patients.
"You're going to learn their needs and their desires - physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual. Share their needs and desires with the rest of the team," she said.
Walston said that educating patients "is paramount in their recovery. Teach them about their medications and possible outcomes. Discuss lifestyles, and the impact they have on health."
Nurses must also work at educating themselves. "Stay up to date about new treatments and new medications, new procedures. The day you stop learning is the day you stop giving your patients the best care," she said.
Collaborating with doctors, nurses, therapists and other caregivers is also essential, she said.
"Everyone on the team is important in caring for your patients. Be willing to be taught, but also be willing to lend a hand. Be there for one another," she said.
Senior class representative Brandy Goar called her class "well-educated and compassionate" and predicted that "great things will come from us."
Goar, of Rock Hill, thanked Lander's nursing faculty for setting her and her classmates up for success. "Without your devotion to teaching, we would not be walking this stage as graduates," she said.
Five graduating seniors received special recognition. Savannah Jo Reinhardt, of Greenwood, received the Faculty Award of Excellence, awarded to the graduate who demonstrates the greatest promise of making significant contributions to the profession of nursing. Reinhardt also won the Professional Nursing Award, presented to a graduate who demonstrates leadership qualities in the practice of professional nursing.
Receiving the Clinical Excellence Award was Leanna Usry, of Batesburg-Leesville. The award recognizes outstanding clinical practice, client-centered care, and innovation in nursing care and practice, as well as management and problem-solving skills.
Savanna Smith, of Lexington, was the recipient of the Professional Development Award, which recognizes a nursing student who shows substantial professional growth and development.
The Nursing Athletic Award, presented to a senior who has played on a sports team while in nursing school, and who has shown academic excellence, integrity and sportsmanship, went to Casey Wooten, of Honea Path, who plays on Lander's softball team.
The Nursing Leadership Award, which honors a senior demonstrating emerging ability to advance the practice of professional nursing and creative leadership in solving nursing care problems, was presented to Devon Hoskins, of Lexington.