Nursing is an incredibly challenging profession, physically and emotionally, but as is with anything that requires great care and caution, it’s also a career that people often fall in love with. Holly Hinckley didn’t know that when she started at UMC on November 4, 1977, she was at the onset of a career she’d love so much that she’d never want a thing to change about it. “You never think you’re going to work somewhere for 45 years,” Holly said with a smile. “But I’ve always loved what I’ve done.”
Holly started by ordering supplies and preparing the brand-new NICU for its first patients. In addition to preparing the space, she spent time with other nurses in the community, doing everything she could to help recruit for UMC. After careful preparation, the first NICU patient arrived on February 4, 1978—the first in a long line of our most vulnerable patients, those that would inspire the hospital’s general growth and eventually the UMC Children’s Hospital.
“Nursing has certainly changed over time,” Holly said. “Before, nurses were pretty generalized, but they’ve become much more specialized over time.” She also explained how the hospital changed to meet this need for further specialization. More than merely growing, she mentioned technology’s importance as the hospital system has expanded. “Sometimes it’s hard to get out of our units, but I remember walking the halls one time and almost running into a wall that I hadn’t remembered being there before,” Holly said. “Things would change that quickly.”
Some things, however, always stayed the same. “Patients were always put first since I started working at UMC.” She mentioned the importance of respecting the patients, their trying situations in the NICU, and caring for families and anyone who came into the unit. “Over time, I feel like the doctors and other medical staff started to see how important nurses were in these units.”
Holly reflected on some of the old traditions that remained despite the many changes. “We had this silly tradition of naming each other something with ‘Bob’ in it, and we had Holly Bob and Carrie Bob and Allison Bob. I eventually became ‘Sheriff Bob’ because I would walk around with his toolbelt to keep the things I needed, and the others used to say it looked like a sheriff’s holster. So, to this day, I’m called ‘Sheriff Bob.'”
Fun traditions aside, Holly exudes a genuineness about her, her eyes sparkling at every mention of the babies in the NICU. “I could never tear myself away from the babies,” she said. “I’ve never been a person who’s been overly ambitious, and I wanted to work as a nurse for as long as possible because it’s what I love to do. Thinking about how she might advise a younger medical staff member, a brand-new nurse, or a future CEO, she said, “Always do your best. Do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do…” she nodded, smiled, and said with spirit and assurance “…and trust god.”