Wyvonia Harris

20150410_Wyvonia Harris 01 low res
Wyvonia Harris, Faith Community Nurse, at the 2015 Westberg Symposium at The Peabody Hotel.

Who I am…

My name is Wyvonia Woods Harris. I am an associate minister and also a registered nurse. I have a Master’s degree in community health and also a Master’s in Divinity from Memphis Theological Seminary.

I was born here in Memphis at the old John Gaston Hospital some 69 years and 10 months ago. I actually graduated from Booker T. Washington High School, but I married at 16, had three children and then went to nursing school.

My work as a Faith Community Nurse…

I use every opportunity to teach and to help them gain knowledge about taking care of themselves. Prevention, you’ve gotta do that!

It’s saying, “I’m here for you and I want you to be better.”

What led me here…

Always loved nursing. You know how you have your dolls? And some of them are dressing them, but my dolls were sick, so I took care of them and loved nursing.

I worked as a staff nurse and also a nurse manager, a case manager and a research coordinator all at Baptist.

How I really got into the faith community nursing is that I worked with Dr. Manoj Jain who was doing a study on spirituality with a Dr. Benson out of Boston. And we were looking whether or not prayer and people knowing that they were being prayed how that affected them as they were getting ready to have surgery—cardiac surgery.

How faith plays a role in my work…

When I wake up in the morning and think, “OK, You’ve given me another day of all of these things, now how am I going to be able to get out and give it to somebody?” So my faith is such a strong piece of my nursing and even before I became a minister, from the very beginning I always said, who I am is a nurse minister or a ministering nurse.

I define healthcare as…

It’s being able to communicate to any group anywhere anytime about the need for prevention as well as retention.

One of Memphis’ greatest healthcare challenges is…

Education. Education, education.

Lack of knowledge is such a barrier to healthcare.

But what Memphis healthcare is doing right is…

I think they’re really beginning to look at the fact that there are some people who have no jobs and have no opportunity to get jobs, so we have to try to look at ways we can provide care. Collaboration’s going to be the new thing that’s going to make it work.

The biggest challenge in my healthcare work is…

Helping people to understand the outcome of hypertension.

And so I think it’s just helping people understand that if you don’t take care of yourself at this point, when you get to this end, you won’t be able to take care of yourself.

The greatest reward in my healthcare work is…

I’m thinking about this young lady that 8 years ago she was diagnosed with breast cancer and at that time I was working as a research coordinator, so I said, “OK, tell me, not what can I do for you, but what would make you feel best.”

She said, “If I had someone to go to the physician’s office with me.” So I went to the physician’s office with her.

Just, just being able to help.

Learn more about Wyvonia Woods Harris

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