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Generations of Nursing

Published on Wednesday April 3, 2024
Melissa Carrico and her daughter, Alaina, in front of VBH
By Melissa Carrico, RN

This year, we're celebrating the centennial of Virginia Baptist Hospital and sharing stories from throughout its history of excellent care. Melissa is one of many members of the current VBH Team who were personally impacted by the care they received as a child which led them to pursue a career in the medical field or work at the hospital.

In 1978, I had kidney surgery performed by Dr. Sorenson and was admitted to the Pediatric Unit at Virginia Baptist Hospital. I still remember to this day the events of my one week stay. I had the most fabulous nurses who made my stay as fun as it could be–they assembled a nurse’s hat for me, made balloons from gloves and even popped wheelies in the hallway when I was able to get out of bed and go for a wheelchair ride. I had three drainage bags and they made having them fun by calling them my pocketbooks. Additionally, they read to me and played board games such as Operation and Hi Ho Cherry O. 

Dr. Sorenson gave me a surgical hat, shoe covers, a mask and gloves to keep and play with. He also let me keep the scissors and tweezers that were used to remove my stitches. I still have them to this day. Everyone was so kind, and the Peds Unit was phenomenal, so much so that I told my mom when we got home that I was going to be a nurse. I never wavered from this plan.

I was seven years old at the time of the surgery and continued playing nurse and doctor with my friends and family. I even got a doctor kit that Christmas. As a teenager, I was eager to help anyone that was hurt or sick. My dream of becoming a nurse was still alive.

I went on to graduate high school and attend the Lynchburg General Hospital School of Nursing in 1989. In 1990, I became a Nurse Extern and began to work for Centra Virginia Baptist Hospital on the Skilled Care Unit in the English building.  In 1991, I transferred to the Postpartum Unit where I continued my externship and then became a restorative nursing assistant. 

I had several wonderful mentors that helped my transitions, and some became lifelong friends. In 1993, I became a registered nurse and began working night shift on the Postpartum Unit under Carolyn Jacques who was the unit manager. I remained with Postpartum through the change and renovation to Mother/Baby in the late 1990s. The previous Newborn Nursery and Postpartum Units were converted to Mother/Baby couplet care. 

In 2005, I decided to expand my knowledge and obtain my Maternal Newborn Certification, and later I pursued my bachelor of science in nursing through the first Liberty University/Centra Cohort Program in 2013.  I served on many committees over the years, advanced in the Clinical Ladder Program and later served as unit president. 

In May of 2021 in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and after 31 years of bedside nursing, I was presented with the opportunity for a management position. After much discussion and thought, I accepted the role of Assistant Unit Manager on Mother Baby (and MSIU for a short time). This was an adjustment for me (going from expert to novice), but I really enjoy being in this role and getting a different perspective on the field of nursing.

I am approaching 34 years of service with Centra (31 as a RN) and have no regrets! I want to say thank you to all of the nurses and doctors who showed me so much compassion at the tender age of seven and to all of my family, coworkers and managers who helped and encouraged me through the many changes during my career. Thank you for encouraging me, mentoring me and supporting me. 

God had a plan for me, I never wavered from it and every smooth transition throughout my career leads me to believe that it was just meant to be. I am proud to say that I am a Centra Virginia Baptist Hospital Mother/Baby nurse!

Just last year, my daughter, Alaina Carrico, followed in my footsteps and graduated from Liberty University with her bachelor of science in nursing. She currently works in the Intensive Care Nursery at VBH, and to say I am proud is an understatement. While she remembers the many holidays and family events that I had to miss, she has a new appreciation for the sacrifices that nurses make every day and now understands my love for VBH from the architecture to the family-like atmosphere. 


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