MUSC celebrates outstanding employees during National Nurses Week

May 17, 2023
Two men laugh together. One is holding flowers and a plaque.
Nurse of the Year Christopher Gramse with his supervisor, Patrick Riley. Photo by Sarah Pack

Christopher Gramse, who works with patients struggling with substance use and mental health issues, was shocked to be named Nurse of the Year by MUSC Health during National Nurses Week. “It's just amazing. It's a great honor. I'm super proud of myself, but also my team, and I mean, my family supports me and helps me continue that love that I feel I have for nursing.”

His supervisor, Patrick Riley, wasn’t surprised. “Chris is a very compassionate individual. He's very level-headed. He doesn't let anything rattle him. And truly in the position that he has in working in psychiatry, you have to have a lot of compassion and a lot of patience and tolerance, and he exhibits all of those qualities.”

People in church pews stand to read from papers in their hands. 
Nurses recite the Florence Nightingale pledge at the Nurse of the Year ceremony in St. Luke's Chapel. Photo by Sarah Pack

The award came during a week when MUSC Health honored and celebrated nurses throughout its hospitals and clinics. It had a roving photobooth to showcase nurses, discounted tickets to sporting events, free breakfasts and more. 

National Nurses Week begins each year on May 6 and ends May 12, Florence Nightingale’s birthday. It honors the work of nurses and sacrifices they make every day as essential members of health care teams, providing care, compassion and expertise. There are more than 4 million nurses across the country.

Woman with shoulder length blonde hair wearing a pink shirt and white pants smiles while seated. 
Kathy Cole, former nurse and wife of MUSC President Dr. David Cole. Photo by Brennan Wesley

Recognition of nurses’ value goes to the very top level of the Medical University of South Carolina. The wife of MUSC’s president is a former nurse. Kathy Cole spoke at an educational event during Nurses Week.

“Dave and I appreciate all you do for us and for MUSC on a daily basis,” Cole said, referring to her husband. “There really aren’t enough words to express our thankfulness for all you did during COVID and beyond. I am humbled by all of you.”

She emphasized the importance of the continuing education nurses pursue. “Health care changes daily. There are constantly new ways of doing things, new technology, new diseases, you name it. If we don’t keep up with what is going on, we won’t be the best we can be for our patients.”

Cole also encouraged the nurses to take care of themselves as well as their patients. “Nursing burnout is a real thing, especially after COVID. Know you are important to us. We value you and what you do. Your patients value you and need you. Do what it takes to take time off, sit in the sunshine and let it warm your face for a few minutes when the days are long and hard. Get sleep and eat right and know your job and your livelihood are critical. A hospital can’t function without our nurses.”

The chief nursing officer of the MUSC Health-Charleston Division, Brenda Kendall-Bailey, DNP, said she’s inspired by the energy of the nursing community. She took on the role of nursing chief on April 17. 

“Being a new leader here at MUSC, I witnessed many interactions and was struck by the camaraderie and support provided within the teams; even while the work was hard and the hours were long, the grace and care demonstrated was awe inspiring,” Kendall-Bailey said.

Large group of nurses gathered at front of a church smiling. 
Nurse of the Year nominees from units throughout MUSC Health gather at the front of the chapel. Each was recognized during the Nurse of the Year ceremony. Photo by Sarah Pack

That camaraderie, support, grace and care were on display throughout the week, including at the Nurse of the Year ceremony in historic St. Luke’s Chapel on the MUSC Charleston campus. Nurses from units throughout MUSC Health were there to represent their areas as nominees for Nurse of the Year. 

Afterward, winner Christopher Gramse, had a message for the public. “I think anybody could be a nurse,” he said.

“But I don't think you have to be a nurse to care for somebody. Just you see somebody on the street, and you can make their life better just by interacting with them.”

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