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Sherry Farr, R.N., A Nurse on a Mission

I am a great advocate for nurses. I have been advising students that if they have an opportunity to be trained as a nurse - go for it. No other profession offers the opportunity to travel to any country of the world and get a job the next day. Doctors, lawyers, dentists, teachers, pharmacists, and physical therapists cannot do it because of training/licensing requirements. When nurses are certified in one country, they can work anywhere. It turns out that the criteria for nursing certification is the same the world over. If you like to travel, this is the profession for you.

Countries around the world have a nursing shortage and will welcome any nurse who wants to live and work with them. They will welcome you with open arms. While the salaries will not match what is usual and customary in the United States, Canada and Europe, some countries will make up for it will free housing, transportation, and meals.

There are 2.7 million nurses in the United States and we are short by 20 percent. When I was a patient at Emory Midtown, the 12 nurses who looked after me were from 10 different countries. Each year, we import thousands of nurses and still come up short. I know of one hospital that advertises in Jamaica that if you are a certified nurse, sign up at their recruitment center and they fill a chartered plane and bring them back to Atlanta where they provide a good salary, medical coverage, housing, and meals. In the meantime, Jamaica fills their nursing needs by recruiting from India.

We have a shortage because with increasing population growth and especially the aging of our baby boomers, coupled with not enough nursing schools graduating nurses to accommodate the increasing need (particularly for specialized nurses). Many of the nurses are also retiring because of burnout from their stressful lifestyle. We should be concerned. Who will provide the loving tender care for our over 80 population? I am anticipating an adverse impact on our healthcare system. In other words, be generous with your appreciation for the nurses you know. They are the backbone of our healthcare system. Gordon College has an excellent nursing school whose students are volunteering to help administer the COVID-19 vaccines.

In the tradition of nurse Lillian Wald who founded the Visiting Nurse Service and the Children's Bureau in 1912, an advocate for women and children and lobbying to end child labor, our own Sherry Farr (a native of Thomaston and honor graduate from Brookwood School) has been a public health advocate since her graduation from the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta in 1983. After stints at the Monroe County Hospital in Forsyth, the Putnam General Hospital in Eatonton, and Macon Northside Hospital, she returned to work at Upson Regional Medical Center in 2000 as a med/surg charge nurse.

She found her true calling in 2016 when she was offered the nurse manager position at the Upson County Health Department. Being certified in CPR and Child Safety Seat technician, she transferred to the Lamar County Health Department in Barnesville as the county nurse manager, where she is currently in charge of their public health initiatives.

Ladies and gentlemen, no one takes their responsibilities more seriously. She started the Lamar County Family Connections Collaborative, active with the Rotary Club and an advisor to the Lamar County 4H program. Most notably, as a member of Ramah Primitive Baptist Church, she is the medical team leader for Discipling Ministries International.

Her honors include the First Humanitarian Award (1999) from Macon Northside Hospital, the Lamar County Career Woman of the Year (2013), and the Ruth B. Freeman Nursing Award for population Health Practice (2016) from the Georgia Public Health Association.

According to Dr. Charlaya Campbell (ZOe Pediatrics, Barnesville): "Sherry is a dedicated public health nurse. We work closely to assure the children of Lamar County receive superb medical care. As a physician, I am concerned about individual patients while she is focused on general public health. If the patient is sick, you treat the patient; if the community is sick, you treat the community. Right now, we have several public health priorities that include COVID-19, obesity, low birth weight newborns, and domestic dysfunction. Sherry is forever thinking about what she can do to help us address these issues. She is a true champion for the residents of Lamar County. Please help us help you and contact her at the Lamar County Health Department to get your COVID-19 vaccination."

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