I want to begin this morning by sharing a comment I received in response to my recent VC Notes recognizing the vital role that nurses play at UMMC. The comment is from Mary L. Carr, a registered nurse on 7 West. More relevant for my purposes today, Mary is retiring at the end of this month. Here's what she had to say:
“I am thankful and grateful that for the past 40 years I have been proud to be a nurse and even prouder that 30 of my years have been right here at UMMC. I have been here for the good, the bad and sometimes even the ugly. But, I held on and hung in and I am so glad I did. A medical doctor told me many years ago that if I came to work every day at UMMC and did not learn something new every time I came, then it was my own fault. Because every day that we show up is an opportunity to learn and to grow. He was absolutely right. We are not only a teaching institution but a learning, growing, constantly changing for the better institution.”
Reading these words makes me so pleased and proud. In a couple of weeks, we will celebrate the contributions of a group of retiring faculty and staff for their many decades of service to UMMC. In a real sense, they ARE the Medical Center. Their spirit, their compassion, their grit - demonstrated day in and day out, year after year - has defined us more than any vice chancellor could do or say. It's defined them, too - as professionals.
People have choices about where they work. I appreciate those who made the choice to work at UMMC. Especially those of you who have been with us during a long period.
There have been many changes during the span of an entire career. Changes in health care and in our education and research missions. Changes in who we are and how we perceive ourselves. Not all of those changes have been for the better, certainly. There have been many disruptions. Sometimes it's harder to stay and work through tough issues than it is to leave. And working through those issues is usually where the greatest reward can be found.
While the grass may look a little greener at other organizations with different purposes, those who have been here some time know the work we do is special, almost sacred in a way. I truly believe in order to "get" this place, you have to be mission-driven. You have to believe in the cause. I'm reminded of the famous slogan created originally for President John F. Kennedy's Peace Corps: “It's the toughest job you'll ever love.”
Those of us in leadership positions now are keenly aware of how much we owe these longtime, dedicated employees. They were working long before we came on the scene, building the strong foundation for the success we enjoy today. Now it's time for others to take their place. But we will never forget what they achieved.
Again, in her note to me, Mary Carr said it better than I ever could:
“It has been a blast working here but on June 28th I will say goodbye to so many good years. My time has come. Again, I am so proud of UMMC and what it stands for, getting bigger and better all the time.”
Thank you to Mary and to all of our retirees. Thank you for helping us get bigger and better, so we can keep doing the best and toughest job there is, getting us ever closer to A Healthier Mississippi.