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Nellie’s Full-Circle Moment in Nursing

May 11 2022

Nearly four decades. That’s how long Nellie League, MSN, RN, NE-BC, vice president of nursing for our Richmond market (pictured above, right and bottom left), has been caring for our patients. That’s also how long she’s been inspiring a new generation of nurses and leaders within our ministry.

Nellie first started working for us in January of 1984. She started on a med/surg unit, then went to a mother-infant unit before starting in the Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital newborn intensive care unit (NICU) when it opened in 1991. There, Nellie spent years in a leadership role before taking on more administrative leadership roles within the hospital.

What Nellie loves about being a nurse is the chance to combine the art of nursing with the science of nursing.

“Nurses have the opportunity and the privilege to impact people with every interaction they have, whether with patients, families, even a stranger walking down the hall,” she shares. “A smile or acknowledgment can change someone’s day. What a gift that is for all nurses!”

During Nellie’s time serving in the NICU, there were many families she became close with. Sometimes, babies were in the unit for months. It was nearly impossible not to develop warm relationships with the families as Nellie cared for their precious child, even children in some instances.

“I run into families in the grocery store and they recognize me,” she says. “They ask if I worked at St. Mary’s Hospital and it starts the wonderful story of their children’s journey from the NICU to life.”

However, Nellie never truly felt a full-circle moment until earlier this year at one of our hiring events. There, Nellie came face-to-face with a young nursing student who recognized her.

Nellie recalls the story of this incredible chance meeting.

“I saw two nursing students sitting and waiting to talk to one of the nursing managers. So, I stopped to talk to them, introduce myself and learn about their journey as well as where they wanted to work. When I was sharing my journey with them, I said my name and one of the young nurses looked at me funny. She said ‘Nellie?’ and I said ‘Yes.’ Quickly, it all came out that I had cared for her twin siblings (pictured above, top left) in the NICU 26 years ago. Her parents had talked about me frequently over the years, which is the reason she wanted to become a nurse and, hopefully, work in a NICU one day.”

Nellie continues, “when I looked at her name tag and saw her last name, it all came back to me. I had developed a very warm relationship with her mom, dad and older brother who would come and visit with the babies many years ago. They were such a special, loving family. I was thrilled to hear about how everyone was doing, especially the twins who are now quite successful!”

As fate would have it, this young nurse was offered a position in the NICU at St. Mary’s Hospital, the same NICU that inspired her to become a nurse. And also, after finally meeting the woman who inspired her to pursue a career in nursing in the first place.

“I am thrilled that this young nurse will be starting her career with our ministry,” Nellie shares. “Most of all, I hope she will love it as much as I have and stay at least as long as I have – 38-plus years!”

As a veteran nurse, Nellie’s advice to anyone who is considering a career in nursing is to go for it.

“Over the years, when people ask me what I do for a living, I am always so proud to say I am a nurse. I have always loved my job and can’t imagine doing anything else,” Nellie says.

Happy Nurses Week! The compassionate care provided by our dedicated nursing professionals is at the core of everything we do at Bon Secours, where nurses mean the world.

Join us in thanking our nurses this week! Use #BonSecoursNursesWeek on social media to share your “thank you” messages.

Also, read more stories about our amazing nurses.

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