Northwest Nursing alumnae named Nurses of the Year

Northwest Mississippi Community College is proud to announce that Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) alumnae Katelin Bozeman and Elaine Karnes have both been named 2021 Emergency Nurse of the Year at Baptist Memorial Hospital – DeSoto in Southaven.

Bozeman, of Senatobia, and Karnes, of Southaven, tied for the honor during Emergency Nurses Week in 2021, with votes cast by their peers working in the hospital’s emergency room. 

"We are overjoyed that Northwest nurses continue to rise above in their service at Baptist Memorial Hospital - DeSoto while delivering exceptional care to patients there," said Lacey Gentry, director of Nursing Instruction. "Elaine and Katelin are wonderful examples of the high level of integrity, strong work ethic and compassionate care that is the expectation of all Northwest RN graduates. Thank you for making us even more proud. The future of nursing is bright with leaders like these at the bedside."

A December 2018 graduate of Northwest’s ADN program, Bozeman went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the Mississippi University for Women. After graduation, she worked in cardiovascular stepdown at Baptist East in Memphis, but desiring a change of pace, eventually made the move to her current position in Southaven. 

Describing her day-to-day life in the emergency room, Bozeman said not knowing what each day will bring keeps her job exciting, saying some days are fairly uneventful while others are long and difficult. Bozeman explained that the same can be said of each day’s emotional toll.

“The emotional aspect has been the most surprising part because there’s just no way to prepare for that, no matter how good the program you studied in was,” she said.

Despite her career’s challenges, her peers clearly see a professional excelling in her role. Bozeman said “shocked” is the only way she could describe her reaction upon hearing her co-workers had voted her one of her department’s top nurses.

“I’ve only been a nurse since 2019, so I was very surprised,” she said. “I didn’t have high expectations. When they said my name… little moments like that make it all worth it. Positive moments like that can do a lot for your week or even your year.”

Bozeman credits Northwest for preparing her well for the work she does, praising the size of the program, skills training and the knowledge and care of instructors and program leaders. 

Karnes, a May 2019 graduate of the ADN program, has been employed with Baptist- DeSoto since the start of her nursing career. Her first career was in political market research, but she was inspired to move to a different field after spending a significant amount of time at Le Bonheur with her son, who has special needs.

She gravitated to the emergency room because, as she explains it, she thrives in chaos.

“It can be a sore throat or full cardiac arrest,” she said. “I’ve been put in many situations in my life before I was in the medical field where I had to make choices very quickly.”

Karnes said she particularly enjoys the “bedside” part of nursing.

“In the emergency department, you’re often seeing people on one of the worst days of their life so I try to be a positive in their day,” she said.

It is clear that her patients appreciate her bedside manner, as she was also awarded the patient-nominated Daisy Award in 2021. Additionally, she earned the Rising Star Nurse Excellence Award. Despite those accolades, she was still caught off guard when she was named an Emergency Nurse of the Year.

“I was surprised because we were nominated by our peers, the people that we work beside day-to-day,” she said. “I work with people who I think are amazing, so I was really humbled and honored that people thought so highly of me as their coworker.”

Before selecting Northwest as the place she wanted to study, Karnes said she consulted with nurses and doctors, who all raved about how well Northwest’s Nursing program prepares its students. After finishing school and starting her new career, she had to agree, explaining that while she was nervous, she also felt comfortable and confident in her knowledge and skills.

“I think without the Northwest experience, it would have been extremely intimidating, especially starting off in the ER,” she said.

For more information about Northwest Nursing and other programs, visit northwestms.edu.