By: Danny Barrett Jr., dlbarrett@umc.edu

Photos By: Melanie Thortis/ UMMC Communications

Their experiences say it all when it comes to job satisfaction for Children’s of Mississippi nurses Elaine Hobson and Nikki Cowan.

“Historically, we’ve had a culture revolving around quality care and safety,” Cowan said. “Kids are so resilient and fun, and my job here is so rewarding.”

Cowan, a 16-year employee of UMMC, has helped foster that culture from all sides – as a high-school volunteer in the activity rooms, a bedside nurse on 5C, a patient of the cardiology department and on a personal level

“I’ve also been here as a mom to a 27-weeker who lived in the NICU for four months,” she said.

Hobson has had a servant’s heart for kids and their families for more than four decades, starting in 1982 as a student nurse, then as an RN/charge nurse with pediatric patients and later as head nurse/nurse manager for pediatric surgery patients. Service is now a legacy in her family, too, with her son, Darius, and daughter, Kendra, also employed as nurses at Children’s.

“The focus has always been on the kids and their families,” Hobson said. “They truly touch your heart. No matter how they feel or what they are going through, they always manage to give you those special smiles and hugs that keep you grounded. It validates the ’why‘ we are here! Kids are great! I love being a part of their lives.”

It’s a culture that’s been quantified across all facets of the Medical Center for 2024, as Chicago-based Becker’s Healthcare has UMMC as one of the top 150 places to work in health care in its annual hospital review. Both public and private entities are listed in the rankings. UMMC is the lone site in Mississippi to make the list. The service also mentions the system being honored in 2023 as one of America’s Best Employers By State and in 2022 as a Best Employer for Women by Forbes magazine.

Organizations featured on the list are top-tier employers who assist in teammates’ professional and personal development, offer wellness benefits that address whole-person health, and provide opportunities to give back to the community, the ratings service said in a release this month.

The recognition is a point of pride and adds to a nurturing environment where employees and patients thrive, said Frank Lenior, chief human resources officer.

“It’s a testament to the dedication and passion of our team, like Elaine Hobson and Nikki Cowan, whose commitment to quality care sets the standard,” Lenior said. “Their stories reflect our culture of compassion and excellence, where every employee, from healthcare workers to administrative staff, plays a vital role in making a difference in the lives of our patients.”

The Becker’s Hospital Review editorial team accepted nominations for this list. The team also assessed rankings and awards from reputable organizations such as Forbes, NewsweekGreat Place to Work and FortuneThe list is intended to highlight and uplift hospitals, health systems and health care companies that positively influence their employees and communities.

A chance to grow an already stellar career as a registered respiratory therapist came in 2020 for Driscoll Devaul when he completed the Doctor of Health Administration program and earned the ASCEND in Leadership recognition.

“These opportunities have helped me grow and develop as a clinical and academic leader,” said DeVaul, assistant dean of academic affairs in the School of Health Related Professions. UMMC consistently invests in its existing workforce as well as recruiting a great one.”

The list also celebrates health care institutions that actively push for diversity in the workplace, promote a healthy work-life balance and enhance employee engagement. Becker’s touts the Medical Center’s multiple benefits offered to its 10,000 employees, as well as its honoring the cultural diversity of Mississippi in hiring.

Sheakitra Hodge, a registered nurse in the Pain Management Clinic at Jackson Medical Mall, works to make those superlatives count, with each smile she can bring to a patient in pain.

“I love the people here at UMMC,” Hodge said. “I also like the fact there is room to grow as a professional.”