NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – May is National Nurses Month and the number of people entering the profession is not meeting demand. However, one scholarship that honors a former Nashville ICU nurse is aiming to change that. 

It’s a story that comes full circle for Jamarcus Corlew, the scholarship’s first recipient, who is now a nurse educator with Ascension Saint Thomas Hospital in Nashville. The educator’s passion for healthcare began with his grandmother who was diabetic and suffered a kitchen injury. 

Corlew says his grandmother went to the doctor with a small scab that soon turned into a bigger wound that led to an amputation of her leg, another limb and eventually her death.  

Although the situation was heartbreaking, Corlew says the care his grandmother received during that time inspired him to join the workforce. He began in the healthcare field as a CNA before eventually becoming a licensed practical nurse and is now a recently registered nurse graduate.

“When I first started nursing school everywhere we would go, if we go the doctor’s office she would be like, you know, ‘this is my grandson and he’s going to be a nurse’ and things like that. I often think about that all the time,’ said Corlew, “I think my grandmother would be extremely happy just to know that I’m doing this because she never got to see me graduate, she never got to see me finish even when I became an LPN, so I think this is amazing because she has given me my passion and even my encouragement down through the years.” 

It was a similar story for Gary Woodward, a beloved nurse at Ascension Saint Thomas West, whose own experience with relatives encouraged him to join the field as well. Woodward passed away from COVID-19, but his family wanted to honor him by supporting the education of nurses advancing their degrees, picking Jamarcus Corlew as the first recipient. 

⏩ Find more Top Stories from wkrn.com

Dan Thompson, vice president of the Ascension Saint Thomas Foundation, says he hopes the story encourages more inspiring nurses to work at the bedsides of hospitals that need them 

“Nursing is particularly challenged right now but I do believe that on the heels of COVID there really is an opportunity to see a whole resurgence of people who recognize the importance of this field and who gravitate towards things that are challenging and meaningful,” said Thompson. 

According to the Tennessee Nursing Association, the pandemic created a domino effect where burnout rates for nurses are at an all-time high, and the number of those entering the field lags behind. The association says healthcare systems must incentivize nurses to enter the profession and stay.