Though Deborah Wall's work doesn't keep her in just one place, she does have a constant in her line of duty: caring for the future.
Wall, a neonatal nurse at the Medical College of Georgia Children's Medical Center, stabilizes and transports ill infants in the hospital and surrounding cities.
"I'm the first person the parents get to meet, and they realize their baby is sick, and I'm taking their baby from them," said Wall. "You get this ability to bond with the family as the first line of contact, and I feel blessed to be able to be a part of that."
Wall, who has worked in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at MCG for 27 years, turned in the winning entry for the Labor Day Essay Contest sponsored by The Columbia County News-Times and The Augusta Chronicle.
"It has always been important to me that (parents) know my care will be compassionate and dedicated to their child's welfare," Wall wrote in her essay.
The Grovetown resident said the Children's Medical Center can handle any medical problem a newborn might have.
"That's probably why I love where I'm at, because it's a teaching hospital," she said. "It has all of the modes of therapy that a baby could ever need to survive."
Before becoming a registered nurse, Wall said, MCG recruited her as licensed practical nurse.
"The medical college has been my home, and they've trained me in everything I've learned as a nurse," she said.
Her work as a transport nurse often entails traveling by ambulance, helicopter or any other necessary means to save an infant.
"Essentially, we get a call, we round up the troops, set it up, get out of here within 30 minutes and try to get there to save a child's life," she said.
Wall's job also includes that of an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation specialist, in which she runs the heart-lung bypass machine for sick infants.
"She's an outstanding nurse," said Dr. Jatinder Bhatia, the chief of neonatology at MCG. "She's very dedicated."
Bhatia, who has known Wall for more than 15 years, has even assigned her a moniker.
"She puts in special lines in babies, and she's very good at it, so I nicknamed her Queen-Picker a long time ago, and it stuck," he said.
As Wall grows nearer to retirement, her ambitions continue to expand.
"My goals have changed from just caring at the bedside and stabilizing babies to teaching and finding someone that I can mentor and teach my job to," she said.
Wall said she's noticed that people entering the nursing field have become more interested in the financial side of nursing as opposed to the nurturing aspects.
She said she hopes to influence future nurses to make positive changes in their careers.
"It is now my goal to pass on the wealth of knowledge and education needed for the next generation of new nurses to carry on, hopefully, with the same level of compassion that I have given the children I have cared for over the years," Wall wrote in her essay.
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