Bonnie Shore: A Nursing Excellence Finalist Reflects on a First Patient

Bonnie Shore

Do you remember the last time a memory flashback made you pause and reflect? Perhaps you wonder on occasion if people from your past ever think of you. Rest assured, if you’re remembering an interaction with a health care professional, especially a nurse, they remember you; the memory of you is crisp and clear.

Such is the case for Bonnie Shore, a nurse clinician with Emory Healthcare, when she thinks of one of her first patients. “I still think about him, and that was either 1955 or 1956,” she reflects. “I was a first-year nursing student at South Carolina Baptist School of Nursing at the time, and we worked in the hospital while attending classes. A young man — probably in his early twenties — came in complaining of a sore throat. Here he was coming in with something he thought was simple, and it turned out he had an aneurism that ruptured.”

That young man ended up having major heart surgery and a three-month hospital stay. Unfortunately, about five years after his surgery, a graft ruptured, and he didn’t make it. “This always stands out for me in my mind,” says Bonnie. “He was expecting something so simple, and it wasn’t. That has always stayed with me.”

For Bonnie, being a nurse is a great professional career choice and one where you can make a true difference in someone’s life – especially today with the advancements in care. “My patient’s story would Bonnie Shoreprobably have a very different ending today, as we’ve progressed so much,” she says. “For one thing, we didn’t have heart and lung machines then, so during his initial treatment, his circulation was off for an extended period of time, which most likely contributed to his long hospital stay. Secondly, we probably would have used his own veins. He most likely would have lived a much longer life.” This reflection on advancements in care rings true for Bonnie. In fact, it is one of the top reasons she thrives on working at Emory Healthcare, the only academic health system in Atlanta. “The learning experiences are endless here,” she says. “In fact, if I go home and didn’t learn something new that day, I’m disappointed. All of the people here are anxious to learn.”

Celebrating Bonnie

When Bonnie, an Emory Healthcare team member for 29 years, was named a finalist in this year’s Nursing Excellence Awards competition, her co-worker family wasn’t surprised. “Bonnie strives for excellence and holds everyone to that level of care,” comments Mary Jo Mills, a nurse manager at Emory Healthcare and longtime co-worker of Bonnie. “And as a friend, she is very caring and always interested in her co-workers’ lives. She is that kind of a giving person.”

Looking back over her tenure of giving to her family, including two sons; her patients; and her co-workers, Bonnie ventures to say that she would encourage anyone who was thinking of becoming a nurse. To Bonnie, this field is so varied in what you can achieve and be — from nurse clinicians and educators to directors — that she sees no end to the opportunities in front of a nurse today.

However, along with a love of helping people, Bonnie has a true love for her co-workers. “I enjoy helping people, but I also enjoy the people I work with. They are like an extended family for me.” And her co-worker family feels the same way about Bonnie. In the memory book of life, Bonnie and her co-workers share an album of dedication to patient care and taking care of each other.

Pictured: Bonnie today and from her nursing school graduation photo