A Heart for Nursing

BSA cardiology nurse Kelly Hugg, RN, married her passion with her profession. Yet nursing was not her first career. For 10 years, Kelly had a rewarding career in insurance fraud investigation. She lived all over the country – from Florida to Colorado. At the age of 29, she moved back home to Amarillo to be with her father, who had faced years of failing health and was placed in hospice care at a VA hospital. Kelly and her family stayed at his bedside, anticipating a calm and peaceful passing. However, Kelly noticed one of his nurses seemed unaware of the importance of that moment and lacked empathy for her father and her family. “I had always had a passion for nursing,” she shares. “In that moment I knew that I needed to be a nurse and that I was going to make it happen.”

While attending nursing school at Amarillo College, Kelly started working at BSA as a tech on the cardiology floor to gain hands-on clinical experience in patient care. She had never worked in a hospital, but was driven by her experience caring for her father during his final days. “Everything happens for a reason,” she says. “Everyone at BSA made me feel welcomed. The BSA Way does work. You are part of the team. Other techs set me up for success as a tech.”

From changing beds to helping patients with their daily care and comfort, caring for patients as she would have wanted her father to be cared for, was intuitive for Kelly. That experience as a tech shaped who she is as a nurse, Kelly says. “I believe I am a well-rounded nurse as a result,” she explains. “I’m better able to work as a team with my techs.”

Kelly graduated from nursing school at the top of her class as the honor graduate and began working as a registered nurse on the cardiology floor. Her heart was initially drawn to cardiology watching her father struggle with heart disease for a number of years. She knew that was where she needed to begin her nursing career. “My life has come full circle,” Kelly shares of her connection with cardiology and with BSA. She was born at High Plains Baptist Hospital, which consolidated with St. Anthony’s Hospital in 1996 to form BSA Health System. “I came back to Amarillo to be with my dad and I can’t imagine leaving. I love my job and I love BSA.”

One year after beginning her nursing career, Kelly was recognized as BSA’s nurse of the month in December 2016. At the employee service awards banquet in January, Kelly’s name was called when the nurse of the year was announced. “I was shocked and very humbled,” she exclaims. “How lucky am I to be in the company of nurses who were recognized for being there 30 or more years?”

Though one person received the award, Kelly says the recognition goes to the team on the cardiology floor.  “The nurses and director on my floor are amazing,” she shares. “They are the ones who trained me and still do. I’m so thankful. And I have to thank my loving, supportive husband. I wouldn’t be here today without him.”

Mentoring and teaching new nurses, is one way Kelly believes she can carry the support and guidance she has received forward. “I would be so happy if one of the nurses I trained was nurse of the month or nurse of the year. That would be the greatest honor and help me pass on what many amazing nurses have instilled in me.”

Kelly answered the call to become a nurse; one she says is an accomplishment for which her father would be proud. “I know he’s watching over me,” she cries. “He always had high expectations for me. I really think he would have been proud of me for this more than any of my other accomplishments.”

The pride a parent has for their child Kelly understands just as her father did. “My six-year-old daughter, Skyler, wants to be a nurse,” she adds. “I would be so proud if she followed in my footsteps and became a nurse at BSA!”

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