Dr. Mary Bess Griffith, Dean of the Jeanette C. Rudy School of Nursing and Health Professions at Cumberland University in Lebanon has been in the nursing field for 45 years.

“I just think it’s the most profound profession because you are invited into an individual’s life, a total stranger usually at one of their most venerable times, and essentially what they’re saying by inviting you in is help me. Nurses are there with the very first breath and they’re there with the very last breath and all points in between. Who has that kind of honor?” said Dr. Griffith.

Seeing how her own family’s illnesses impacted her family dynamic was a catalyst for her wanting to help others. During her long career, she’s touched countless lives from her days as an ICU nurse and beyond.

“I have done occupational health nursing, I have done industrial nursing, I’ve worked with a health plan and insurance, I’ve worked as a nurse practitioner both with individual patients and also with population health trying to improve population health.”

Now as a nurse educator she’s touched even more lives.

“My hand is on the back of every student I’ve ever taught or ever interacted with when they’re caring for their patient. So, think about how many patients I have had the honor to help through nursing education. Then some of my students have become nurse practitioners and they’ve become nurse educators and they have created other nurses and think about my hand on their hand caring for the patient. It’s a phenomenal experience,” said Dr. Griffith.

“Dr. Griffith is a hero because she is an amazing leader.”

Assistant Professor McDearman says that’s because Dr. Griffith’s helped revise the curriculum so nursing students are ready for the new challenges technology brings to the hospital workplace. She says Dr. Griffith has faculty not only training nurses but educating them in a manner where they pass their Tennessee nursing board the first time around so they can then serve patients.

“First-time pass rates are what matters to the board of nursing. So, for 2021 we had a 100-percent pass rate for our NCLEX Board Exams for our graduates and that says a lot about our program. It says a lot about her leadership.”

As for what the future holds for Dr. Griffith, she is in the age bracket where she can retire.

“So, you know one of the reasons why I’m not ready to leave, I haven’t done it all yet,” said Dr. Griffith.

So, we honor Dr. Mary Bess Griffith as our News 2 Gives Back Hometown Hero for the month of April, presented by Trevecca Nazarene University, for her 45 years of dedication to the nursing profession, caring for patients, educating nursing students, and helping to save lives.