Two Wellstar nurses inducted into inaugural Georgia Nursing Hall of Fame

Photo of WellStar KennestoneWellStar Kennestone Hospital (photo courtesy of WellStar Kennestone)

Two nurses from Wellstar Health System were honored by being among the first ten inductees into the Georgia Nursing Hall of Fame, organized by the Georgia Nurses Foundation (GNF). The GNF is the charitable and philanthropic arm of the Georgia Nurses Association.

According to the GNA website, “The inductees are exemplary nurses who have made or have been making contributions in the profession for over 25 years, and who have elevated the role of registered nurses locally, nationally, and/or internationally.”

Candice L. Saunders, FACHE, president and CEO of Wellstar, and Joyce McMurrain, MSN, RN, a nurse manager and coordinator of the Student Nurse Extern Program at Wellstar Kennestone Hospital, were honored along with eight additional nurses at a recent inaugural inductee ceremony.

According to the announcement from Wellstar Health System:

Wellstar Kennestone Hospital’s longest-serving team member, McMurrain, has been a nurse for nearly 60 years, with 56 years—and counting—served at Kennestone Hospital. For many years McMurrain was the nursing director/executive nursing director for Women’s Services at Kennestone, and she also served in that position systemwide. She later transitioned to director of special projects, and is now cultivating the next generation of nurses through her role as nurse manager and student nurse extern program coordinator. She uses her vast experience to guide new nurses and helps nearly 100 nursing students each year gain invaluable hands-on experience in preparation for nursing careers.

“Joyce has a natural ability to develop others and is committed to equipping students with the education and opportunities to excel in patient care and gain confidence in their job. She has been indispensable throughout Wellstar’s extraordinary growth and change and has contributed to its evolution to become one of Georgia’s largest and most integrated health systems,” said fellow inductee Saunders.

The press release gave this biography of Saunders:

Saunders has served as a trustee of the American Hospital Association, chair of the American Hospital Association’s Regional Policy board for Region 4, and past chair of the Georgia Hospital Association. She was named one of Modern Healthcare’s Top 25 Women Leaders and among Georgia Trend Magazine’s 100 Most influential Georgians. A strong patient advocate who began her healthcare journey as a critical care nurse decades ago, Saunders has become a nationally recognized leader in improving community access to vital healthcare needs and enhancing the patient care experience. Saunders joined Wellstar in May 2007 as president of Wellstar Kennestone Hospital. She assumed the role of president and CEO in 2015, becoming the health system’s first female CEO.

“Candice’s impact on the nursing profession is evident through her continued commitment to attract and retain top nursing talent. Candice began her career as a critical care nurse, and she remains passionate about investing in programs and supporting the growth and development of nurses at every stage in their career to ensure our patients and communities have access to high quality, compassionate care for generations to come,” said Dr. O. Scott Swayze, Chair, Wellstar Health System Board of Trustees for the press release.

The complete list of inductees is:

Joyce Barlow, MBA, MHA, RN 

Connie Buchanan, MS, NP-C, FNP

Lisa Eichelberger, PhD, RN

Mary N. Long, RN

Joyce McMurrain, MSN, RN 

Lucy Marion, PhD, RN, FAAN, FAANP

Tim Porter O’Grady, DM, EdD, ScD (h), APRN, FAAN, FACCWS


Candice Saunders, FACHE, RN

Mary E. Walker, BSN, RN-BC