Dr. Jeanette Andrews once walked down the corridors of the Charlie Norwood Department of Veterans Affiars Medical Center with her aunt, Joyce Grimaud.
They couldn’t get far.
“Patients and their families would stop her. Everyone knew her, and everyone highly regarded her,” said Andrews, Associate Dean for Research and Evaluation at the Medical University of South Carolina. “She was a star.”
Grimaud retired from the VA in 2006, but a new generation of fans is discovering this lifelong nurse who can still be spotted wearing the old-school uniform she first donned in the early ’60s.
For the past five years, she has volunteered in the Georgia Health Sciences University College of Nursing to help prepare students for clinical work in the simulation lab. And with financial support from Andrews, the college recently established a scholarship in her name – the Joyce R. Grimaud Cardiovascular Nursing Scholarship Award – to a pre-licensure student intent on becoming a cardiovascular nurse.
The inaugural recipient, Kristin Murray, got acquainted with Grimaud over lunch.
“She was one of the best students who could have gotten it,” said Grimaud, adding that she was humbled and surprised when she learned her niece established a scholarship in her name. Few others were surprised.
“Everybody just loves Mama Joyce,” said Dr. Rebecca Rule, Director of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. “She brings such a wealth of what we call ‘worker wisdom’ to teaching,” Rule said, meaning that Grimaud can impart decades of hands-on experience and instinct that books and simulation labs cannot produce.
Interestingly, Grimaud herself does not hold a bachelor’s degree – she completed the diploma program at University Hospital in 1962. However, her 40 years of experience and personality make her a role model for aspiring nurses.
“She’s a very compassionate caregiver with patients and families, but she’s also a very competent and skilled nurse,” Andrews said. “She embodies what we call ‘the art and science of nursing.’”
Many undergraduate students initially lack a clinical background. Grimaud helps them master fundamentals such as measuring blood pressure and giving injections. She also helps Certified Nurse Leader program students replicate with computerized mannequins many situations they will see in the clinical setting, such as a hypertensive crisis.
It’s all very different from the training she received as a budding professional, when injections might have been practiced on oranges and nurses were expected to stand when a physician entered the room.
“When I trained, we didn’t have simulation labs, so we worked with actual patients,” Grimaud said. “Most students say they are so glad to be able to work in this setting because it prepares then for when they go into direct patient care. They feel much more confident.”
Grimaud said she volunteers in part because she misses nursing. But it also keeps her abreast of current developments in the profession.
“She certainly gives back, but she receives, as well, from the students,” Andrews said. “She’s a lifelong learner, intrigued by new technologies. She wants to continue to learn and to share with our young scholars.”
Andrews said the scholarship is a way to thank her aunt for inspiring her to go into nursing, her career marked by numerous achievements since she was named Young Researcher of the Year at GHSU.
Andrews completed her master’s at Georgia Southern University and doctorate at the University of South Carolina. She is a certified Family Nurse Practitioner, and was previously on the faculty at GHSU. She has since been awarded a full professorship at the Medical University of South Carolina, where she is Director of the Center for Community Health Partnerships.
“I wanted to establish her legacy while she is still young. I wanted to demonstrate how much she means to me,” Andrews said.