Interview with Joyce McMurrain: inductee into Georgia Nursing Hall of Fame

Joyce McMurrain headshot photoJoyce McMurrain (Photo courtesy of Wellstar Health System)

Joyce McMurrain, MSN, RN is one of the two inductees into the inaugural Georgia Nursing Hall of Fame from Wellstar Health System, organized by the Georgia Nurses Foundation (GNF). The GNF is the charitable and philanthropic arm of the Georgia Nurses Association.

The Courier conducted an interview with McMurrain via Zoom on Friday afternoon, and began by asking her “What does the induction mean to you?”

“Well, it is certainly an honor that I’ll always cherish being amongst nine other Georgia nursing leaders that entered into this inaugural 2022 Nursing Hall of Fame.”

What was the selection process like?

“I learned that the night of the induction, which was very interesting.

“The Georgia Nurses Foundation selected a panel of three out-of-state judges with a combined track record of over 40 years.

“And those were either nurses themselves or in support of the nursing profession. And they scored each of the nominees and the top ten were selected for this amazing honor.”

How long have you been a nurse?

“I have been a nurse 57 years proudly I say.

“I’ve been with Wellstar 56 of those 57 years in various roles, various capacities throughout my career and new opportunities still await me.”

Did you start here in Cobb County?

“My first job was in Washington, DC, where I graduated from a diploma program. My second job was in Norfolk, Virginia, in a maternity unit. And my third job 56 years ago was here at Kennestone, a maternity staff nurse.”

Are there any moments that stand out as defining moments, any real highlights, in your time at WellStar?


“My most outstanding moment was the opening of the Jean and Mack Henderson Women’s Center at Kennestone in June of 1998.

“And it was my honor and privilege to be a part of that planning process as we worked to replace the original hospital with this magnificent center.”

What does the typical workday look like for a nurse?

“For nurses at Wellstar, they are on 12-hour shifts.

“That’s something that changed probably 20 years ago.

“They work three 12-hour shifts a week and sometimes more.

“Typically, they have five to six patients and they are rounding on those patients giving medications, doing treatments, or rounding with physicians and really being sure that the patient receives excellent care.”

What programs have you worked on at Kennestone that you’re particularly proud of?

“I have many.

“But the two that I will mention to you:

“One was the introduction of mother-baby couplet care, which was kind of a new, modern maternity concept.

“And I led that project in 1992, prior to building the Women’s Center.

“That’s where the baby stays in the room with the parents around the clock.

“And so it’s very different from the time before where they were whisked off to a nursery come back every four hours. So that was a wonderful transition that occurred.

“And then more recently, in my last 10 years, the impact on the nursing extern program at Kennestone.

“And this is students that are actively in nursing school. They come and work with us as employees, and they have a team of patients as well.

“They work under a nurse on a nursing unit, they gain that experience, and it really helps them as they move forward in their nursing career.”

What traits make a great nurse?

“What sets a great nurse apart is one who practices professionally and serves with compassion that sets them apart. Each nurse certainly comes to nursing to serve others, and a great nurse comes with that compassion to serve.”

What would you tell young people who are coming into the nursing profession? What kind of advice and words of encouragement would you give?

“The advice that I choose to give is that each of us play an important part in the care of our patients, and it takes all of us to make a significant difference.

“And for the students, having to practice in the nursing environment, really helps them gain that experience on their nursing journey.

“And so, therefore, it sets them up for success as they move forward.”

“The last word I would share with you as I was telling folks yesterday that one of the things I have in my home … is a plaque that says ‘Run the race set before you with perseverance’.

“And so that’s what I would impart to our nursing students as well.”