Sycamore Shoals nurse Britt ‘lives to serve’

Published 10:23 am Tuesday, May 12, 2015

NW0512 Nurses Feature A

For 36 years, Debbie Britt has worked as a registered nurse caring for patients at Elizabethton’s hospitals.

She started her career at the old Carter County Memorial Hospital and then moved to Sycamore Shoals Hospital when it opened in 1980.

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The driving force behind Britt’s decades of service is love for her patients.

“I love my patients, and I love my job,” she said. “I really love this hospital, too. I am very proud to work here.”

Becoming a nurse could have been part of Britt’s destiny. Her mother was a nurse, and Britt decided to pursue the career herself. She went to vocational school and started working as a licensed practical nurse. She continued her education to become an RN and has stuck with the medical field ever since.

Today, Britt works in the operating room and surgical recovery. Over the years, she has worked in every department the hospital has, she said. One of her favorite assignments from the past was working night shift on the pediatric floor with Dr. Ted Taylor.

“That was the best,” she said. “Working in the emergency room was good, too. I loved that job. Each position can be stressful. There are different things that happen in each one. That is why it is important to move around when you have the chance, so that you will not get burnt out on what you do. It has definitely been a learning experience.”

For her current position, Britt is a member of the on-call team. This means if an emergency surgery happens after the normal shift, she is one of the crew members called in to care for the patient during the procedure and while they are recovering.

Being able to provide comfort to those patients as they come out of the operating room is one of the highlights of the hob for Britt.

“When they come out of surgery, they are almost helpless,” she said. “I monitor their breathing to make sure they are OK. If they are in pain, I give them their medication. You can see immediately that you are helping them. That is what I like.”

Britt doesn’t just work on the emergency cases. She helps out as she is needed to make sure the patients get the best care that they can.

“I always think, ‘What did Jesus do?’ ” she said. “I pattern my life after our Lord. He lived to serve, and that is what I do. It is not just me. Everyone in this building is dedicated to the patient. That is what makes it such a great place. Everyone works so hard to do what is best for the care of the patient.”

While Britt loves her job, she said she is looking forward to retirement. She hopes to be able to retire in around 5 years, and has already made plans for what she is going to do with her free time.

“I bought an RV and I am going to travel,” she said.