MUSC veterans find work-life balance requires focus

November 10, 2020
PICU nurse and veteran Patricia Prause, back left, and daughter Brenna Lawrence, push Brenna’s children, Cydney Grace Lawrence, left, and Ryan Rose Lawrence, right, on swings at the park in Park Circle. Photo by Sarah Pack

Patricia Prause, R.N., is a proud nurse, wife, mother and veteran. With 19 years at MUSC Children’s Health, she’s committed to her patients, fellow nurses and care team colleagues.

Nicholas Langan, M.D., a general surgeon, has worked at MUSC Health Lancaster Regional Medical Center since July. He is a veteran who served nine years working at military installations in San Antonio, Texas; Tacoma, Washington; and Columbus, Georgia, before completing his career as a major in the U.S. Army.

Jessica McMurray never imagined how her enlistment in the U.S. Coast Guard would take her to such incredible places and involve her in exciting search and rescue missions and law enforcement, helping and protecting people. Today, she’s a medical office assistant, welcoming and guiding patients through the registration process at MUSC Health North.

All three military veterans, along with dozens of other MUSC faculty members, staff and students who served their country, are being celebrated for their service. According to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, there are an estimated 20 million adult veterans living in the U.S., with more than 400,000 residing in South Carolina. 

The national theme for Veterans Day 2020 is “Vision: Veterans in Focus.” Many veterans have made sacrifices to serve their country, whether physical or emotional or being away from their loved ones. For many, it’s a quest to find balance between their military commitments and their jobs and families.

A Queens, New York, native and single mother, McMurray describes it as selfless service and putting others before herself. “All veterans make sacrifices to serve their country. Like other servicemen and servicewomen, I was out there making sure the borders were safe for my family and our country’s citizens. During my time in the Coast Guard, I discovered I had a strong desire to help and serve people.”

She sees the similarities with health care. “As a health care worker, you’re always putting others before you,” she said.

Langan shares that same belief. “As a veteran, my active duty military career is complete. I spent many years balancing work, life and duty, and it was not easy to have so many competing priorities. I am proud of my time in service to our country, but I’m also proud that I can now devote even more time to my family.”

With more than 42 years in nursing – four of these years serving as a captain in the U.S. Air Force Nurse Corps – Prause, too, can now reflect on her career as a pediatric intensive care nurse and try to achieve balance with her family.

“I was on active duty when my daughters were born, and they were always proud of the fact that their mother wore combat boots,” Prause said. “I am totally dedicated to my family, and they have supported me as I worked ridiculous hours, holidays and shifts. They have been incredible and never made me feel like I had to choose between work and home. They have always come first. I have loved being a pediatric intensive care nurse, and I’ve been lucky to have worked with some of the most amazing nurses and staff along the way."

With 2020's COVID-19 pandemic so profoundly affecting health care, MUSC's veterans are naturally stepping up because of their courage, leadership and commitment to duty.

As one of the night shift clinical staff leaders in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) at the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital, Prause was part of the clinical care team that back in March helped to transition their unit to a temporary inpatient care unit and worked with the special medical team caring for some of the hospital’s COVID-19 patients.

McMurray’s job with patient registration includes verifying that patients are following MUSC Health’s COVID safety protocols for inpatient medical visits. She also volunteered to work at the MUSC Health COVID-19 respiratory specimen collection site at MUSC Health West Ashley, where she assisted with patient registration.


About the Author

Cindy Abole

Keywords: Features