Nurses of the Week: The Three Fisher Sisters Have a Passion for Nursing Excellence

Nurses of the Week: The Three Fisher Sisters Have a Passion for Nursing Excellence

Charles Edward Fisher and his wife, Rosa Lee Fisher, had five children—two sons and three daughters. Theirs was an African-American family in the community of Freemanville, near Atmore, Alabama, in the mid-20th century. Given the times, they were aware of racial barriers to their children’s opportunities. However, that did not prevent the Fishers from having high expectations for their children and encouraging them to be the best they could be. Those expectations included that their children would graduate from high school and then pursue higher education. In their parents, the Fisher children had role models for working hard. Their dad worked as a janitor and later in production in a chemical plant. Their mom raised flowers for a plant-and-flower nursery.

Parental encouragement paid off. Four of the five Fisher children became college graduates and the fifth a trade school graduate.

For the Fisher daughters—Sarah, Cynthia and Eleanor—seeds also were planted for pursuing a nursing career. Their mom, Rosa, had wanted to become a nurse. But, as eldest daughter Sarah put it, “time and opportunity were not on our mother’s side.”

All three Fisher daughters would become nurses and would earn a nursing education grounded at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. As time went on, Rosa Lee Fisher would smile and say, “with all three of my daughters in nursing, if I get sick and need a nurse, I should be covered on all three shifts!”

Sarah Louise Fisher, Ph.D, MSN, RN

Sarah Louise Fisher, PhD, MSN, RN

Sarah Louise Fisher, PhD, MSN, RN

In September 1965, Sarah Louise Fisher entered the baccalaureate program at what today is known as the UAB School of Nursing. The School then was based in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and, midway through Sarah’s studies, moved to its current Birmingham home as part of what would come to be UAB. Sarah was the first African-American student to be accepted to the School and, in 1969, the School’s first African-American graduate.

She later earned her master’s in nursing, an education specialist certificate and a PhD. All were from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, a city where she and her husband, Joe Giles, lived and reared their family. One of their three children, their son, is a nurse.

For Dr. Sarah Fisher Giles, innovation became a way of life. She was among the first nursing faculty at Wayne County Community College in Detroit and was innovative with curricula to educate nursing students. After retiring from a long career there, she became the founding director of a nursing education department for South University in Novi, Michigan. She also was in the Army Reserves and became a full colonel. In 2001, she was in the first group of distinguished nurses inducted into the Alabama Nursing Hall of Fame.

“I am pleased that I was able to achieve my goals,” she said. “My baccalaureate nursing education from the UAB School of Nursing provided me with a strong foundation.”

She now lives in Georgia and spends her time volunteering to care for people in her church and in the community.

Cynthia Fisher Frazier, BSN, MSN, RN, MS Ed.

Cynthia Fisher Frazier, BSN, MSN, RN, MS Ed.

Cynthia Fisher Frazier, BSN, MSN, RN, MS Ed.

Cynthia Fisher Frazier is the middle of the Fisher daughters. Like her sisters, she has a life strongly grounded in nursing. She holds three degrees from UAB—a bachelor’s in nursing, a master’s in nursing, and a master’s in occupational education.

For more than 30 years, she worked at the Birmingham Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center and rose to positions of leadership. She worked as a nurse manager for four areas—dialysis, IV therapy/phlebotomy, medical specialty clinics and chemotherapy. Her nursing leadership has attracted accolades, including an Excellence in Nursing Award from B-Metro Magazine. The impact of her role modeling is apparent in her own family; one of her two daughters is a nurse.

Cynthia Fisher Frazier recalled being exposed to nursing ideals of high-quality care while she was a UAB baccalaureate and master’s nursing student.

“As a student at the UAB School of Nursing, I saw that the School’s standards were high and that the School did not compromise on those standards.”

Nursing ideals she came to know at UAB continue to guide her today.

“In regard to patient care, through the years I have believed in not compromising values and principles, and in maintaining that expected standard of care in whatever area of nursing you are delivering for patients,” she said. “For me, I believe that understanding and adhering to a high standard of care go back to what I learned at the UAB School of Nursing.”

That dedication to care for patients continued into retirement. When the need arose during the COVID-19 pandemic, she decided to go back to work to help administer vaccines to veterans.

Eleanor Fisher, BSN, MSN, RN, CRNA

Eleanor Fisher, BSN, MSN, RN, CRNA.

Eleanor Fisher, BSN, MSN, RN, CRNA.

The youngest Fisher sister, Eleanor Fisher, pursued an education that led her to a rewarding career in nurse anesthesia.

Typical of the Fisher siblings’ quest for higher education, Eleanor built a strong educational base. She earned baccalaureate and master’s degrees from the UAB School of Nursing. From the UAB School of Health Professions, where the program was formerly housed, she received education in nurse anesthesia.

Eleanor Fisher makes her home in the Birmingham area. But, for this retired contract nurse anesthetist, her work took her into hospital operating rooms in towns and cities outside the area.

She speaks of lessons learned in nursing school. “As a student at the UAB School of Nursing, I learned from the strong emphasis on delivering quality care and being an advocate for your patients. I took those lessons with me.”

When she was involved in putting a patient under sedation for a procedure, Eleanor said she viewed herself as an advocate for making sure the patient receives the best quality of anesthesia services. She approaches her patients with nurturing akin to what she herself received from her own parents and in turn gives to her son.

“I treat each patient as an individual,” she said. “For example, if my patient is a baby, I want that baby’s parents to know that I will treat their baby as though it was my own being put to sleep for surgery.”

Like her sister, she also jumped at the opportunity to do her part during the pandemic. She helps in the process of administering COVID vaccines for children and adults.

Nurse of the Week: On a Covid Unit or In the Air, Misty Freeman Loves Being a Nurse

Nurse of the Week: On a Covid Unit or In the Air, Misty Freeman Loves Being a Nurse

Yes, she’s a frontline nurse during the apex of the Delta summer surge, but Nurse of the Week Misty Freeman, RN, CCRN knows that she’s where she belongs. The North Carolina ICU nurse told local reporter Wylie Bell Richmond , “I love critical care nursing, and although we are in a pandemic, I couldn’t see myself in any other career during this time.”

Freeman focuses on Covid patients right now but is known as an all-rounder. She’s worked in units ranging from the ER and ICU to the progressive care unit, women’s service, and telemetry. And there is no proverbial “eating of our young” at Scotland Memorial Hospital, where she has worked for nearly 15 years. Having been a candy-striper as a teen, Freeman has a place in her heart for any of the “new kids.” She makes time to support new nurses on the unit and mentors them and the cohorts of nursing students from Richmond Community College.

A graduate of Richmond Community College – where she earned her ADN (Associate Degree in Nursing) – Freeman recalls being inspired by the faculty – and her own RCC mentor is proud to return the compliment. Her former instructor Ronnie Lynn Tunstall, in fact, offers the kind of praise that one might tape to their mirror as a daily affirmation message: “Misty is a positive role model, but above and beyond she is an amazing nurse who takes care of her patients, families and other members of the healthcare team.”

“I went into nursing because I love helping people, and no matter what, I would do that at any cost.”

Her formative ADN experience entailed a great deal of hard work and perseverance – and close attention to nurturing a fast-growing infant. As she considered plans for embarking on her dream career, Freeman know she couldn’t lose time chasing will-o’-the-wisps. “At the time [that I enrolled], I had a small child so going off to a university wasn’t an option. After doing some research, I knew that going off to a university did not necessarily make you a better nurse.” She adds, “I knew RichmondCC had an awesome nursing program.”

While inspiring, it was also challenging. At dinner times, her family soon became accustomed to seeing Freeman arrive at the table with her textbooks, so she could keep up with her assignments.

“Nothing came easy for me and I knew that I had to get through the program the first time around so I really had to study. My parents are the ones who instilled in me that education is important, and they helped me get through school.”

Freeman only earned her ADN degree at Richmond CC, but her experience in the program brought her love of nursing to full bloom, leaving her with a profound attachment to her alma mater and to Scotland Memorial as well (the hospital covered most of her college expenses during her first two years there).

“After doing some research, I knew that going off to a university did not necessarily make you a better nurse.”

What does she see for her future? There IS another dream, albeit still within the nursing fold. Freeman is bent on becoming a flight nurse. “I did a ride-along program with Duke Life Flight [in Durham, NC], and the experience was amazing,” she says. So, Scotland Memorial’s “role model” nurse may spread her wings further before long.

First, though, she may wait to establish a family tradition at RCC and SMH. Freeman’s now-grown daughter, Hailey Bustard, is studying at Richmond CC and preparing to transfer into a radiology program. Hailey’s mom couldn’t be happier about this: “College can be one of the most exciting times in your life. It’s an experience that comes with memories that last a lifetime… I’m proud my daughter is attending RichmondCC and… getting the support she needs to accomplish her goals.”

And does Freeman feel that she did in fact “sign on” for a pandemic? Well, she does say, “I went into nursing because I love helping people, and no matter what, I would do that at any cost.”

To see more details on Misty Freeman, check out this story on the RCC News.