Veteran nurse pays it forward

(Record Bee) When Kristy Hosford began the Mendocino College Nursing Program, she had no idea how the program and the people she would meet would change not only her life, but those of everyone involved in the nursing program.

According to Katie Fairbairn, executive director of the Mendocino College Foundation, Inc., during her externship at Howard Hospital in Willits, Hosford met and became friends with veteran nurse Penni Greer. Greer spent half a century as a registered nurse and recounted many stories to Hosford about the changes, challenges and experiences she encountered throughout her career in the medical profession.

Greer recently celebrated her 50th anniversary of graduating from nursing school, Fairbairn stated. As a tribute to her milestone, she decided to give back to the college’s nursing program by making a donation to the newly established Florence Fund.

The nursing class established the Florence Fund to ensure that there is an emergency fund to help nursing students stay in school and succeed, Fairbairn stated. “The average nursing student’s annual earnings decrease by more than 40 percent upon entering the program, and sometimes just buying fuel to attend classes can be a real challenge,” stated Barbara French, nursing program director.

Greer’s tuition for three years of nursing school was $1,000 and included uniforms, books, room and board, student health and transportation costs. Her actual tuition was even less because she had already taken academic coursework at a community college.

Greer’s initial job was at a hospital that offered tuition payback for a one-year employment commitment, Fairbairn stated. Greer accepted the job and payback, which she then used to earn her Bachelor of Science in nursing from San Francisco State University.

“This $1,000 has come back to me at least a thousand fold.” Greer said. “As a way of celebrating my anniversary, I want to give this $1,000 back to nursing by supporting the Florence Fund. Florence Nightingale was my idol when I was young, and she inspired me to go into nursing. She was a woman of great vision and made nursing what it is today. Her values and principles are as relevant today as when she wrote them.”

“Working side by side with Penni Greer learning the nuances and details on how to be a really good nurse was invaluable to me. Penni has such a wonderful demeanor, and she made all of her patients feel so at ease and just well taken care of. She is the kind of nurse I aspire to become,” Hosford said.

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