Nurse Celebrates 50-Years of Caring for Patients

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| Source: The University of Tennessee Medical Center
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KNOXVILLE, TENN., Dec. 19, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The elegant silver haired grandmother of four, Mary Alice Bozeman, led the group of women, with a couple husbands in tow, past the old dormitory that now serves as administrative building on the campus of The University of Tennessee Medical Center. Bozeman and her former classmates shared memories, hugs and laughter as they recalled their time together as members of the class of 1963 at the University of Tennessee Memorial Research Center and Hospital School of Nursing.

When all the other ladies said their goodbyes and left, however, Bozeman simply turned around and walked back into the hospital. She wanted to finish her workday as Nursing Director at the medical center.

Bozeman's professional journey from that old nursing school dorm only took Bozeman about 100 feet, to what is now an entrance to UT Medical Center. Bozeman would argue, however, that the short trip to her first and only workplace resulted in gigantic rewards, in a career that just passed the 50-year mark.

"I never intended to be here this long," Bozeman said. "However the people I work with and the patients I care for just keep drawing me back in. It always seems like there's one more thing I want to do before I retire. And to be able to provide comfort and guidance to our patients and their families through some of their most difficult times is so important."

Bozeman graduated from nursing school as the bright eyed Mary Alice Hall. She said her nursing education, which cost a total of $410, including room and board, prepared her well to begin her career in nursing.

When she started on the patient floor as a staff nurse, nurses weren't allowed to wear slacks. The requirement of dresses only for nurses consisted of starched long-sleeved white uniforms, caps and seamed white hose. The change in uniforms over the decades, Bozeman pointed out, dulls in comparison to the improvements in patient care.

"In 1963 there were no critical care units," Bozeman explained. "When I became a nurse manager, I'd just be sure to put the most critical patients near my desk so I could keep a close watch on them and get to them more quickly. It's amazing how many lives we're saving today because of the advancements in technology, nursing and medicine."

Bozeman currently leads an initiative at the hospital that focuses on continued improvements in customer service for patients. She also recently took on a new project at the hospital to create of an office to assist families with bereavement during time of loss. While Bozeman said she's excited to see further developments at her hospital and in medicine in the coming years, she acknowledged that at age 70, she'll need to begin thinking about retirement at some point.

While plans to end her professional career aren't even close to being finalized, Bozeman, who received numerous promotions throughout her career and even served as Chief Nursing Officer for several years, admitted that her newest grandchild, born in September, seems to be calling her to think about retirement. She had a beaming smile as she talked about spending time with her grandchildren. Bozeman's smile remained in place as she reflected on her career.

"It has been such an honor and privilege to be a part of the nursing profession and watch the medical center grow to be the fine institution it is today," Bozeman said. "Through all the advancements, what hasn't changed is the heart of nursing, the compassion for patients and the quest for quality care. Through these years God has blessed me with a wonderful supportive family both at home and at the medical center."

The mission of The University of Tennessee Medical Center, the region's only hospital to achieve status as a Magnet® recognized organization, is to serve through healing, education and discovery. UT Medical Center, a 581-bed, not-for-profit academic medical center, serves as a referral center for Eastern Tennessee, Southeast Kentucky and Western North Carolina. The medical center, the region's only Level I Trauma Center, is one of the largest employers in Knoxville. For more information about The University of Tennessee Medical Center, visit online at www.utmedicalcenter.org.

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Jim Ragonese
Public Relations Operations
The University of Tennessee Medical Center
(865) 305-6845