MAKING A DIFFERENCE: Austin uses nursing as outlet to reach others

Published 7:36 pm Monday, January 7, 2019

By Gabrielle Terrett

The Vicksburg Post

Being a nurse isn’t always an easy task. The nurse “to-do” list often gives most nurses the excuse to simply go home and rest after a long day of work. However, Alice Austin has chosen to go above and beyond, and her love of nursing is to credit.

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Austin said her love for nursing and people was instilled in her at a young age. Born and raised in Vicksburg, she attended public school and graduated from Vicksburg High in 1984.

“I’d always wanted to be a nurse, so I decided to go to Hinds right here in town,” Austin said. “I went to Hinds for two or three years and got accepted into their nursing program. I failed Nursing 3 then left Hinds and went to Alcorn where I ended up getting my B.S. in nursing. I worked here in Vicksburg at Parkview, which is the old Mercy Hospital off of Clay Street, and then got into management and moved to River Region. I then decided to go back to school to get my masters.”

Austin went back to Alcorn State University, where she received her masters and then taught nursing at Mississippi College. She moved on to Holmes Community College where she was a nursing instructor for several years and then moved into administration.

Despite being in administration, being with patients has always remained with Austin.

Even though she’s been in nursing education since 2002, she has continued to do bedside nursing at River Region part time when she taught at MC and Holmes, as well as St. Dominic.

“And now that I’ve finished my PhD, I’m back bedside nursing at Methodist Rehab,” Austin said.

Loves bedside nursing

She loves the interaction with patients.

“My favorite part about nursing is being with the patients, communicating with the patients who come in sick, and when they’re leaving they’re somewhat more independent,” Austin said. “That connection with the patient and the family — because you don’t just treat the patient, you treat the whole family — that’s the aspect that I love the most. To me, bedside nursing comes natural. Even though I’m in a different area of nursing that I’ve never done before, basic nursing is the same wherever.”

Surprisingly, her inspiration and desire to be a nurse did not come from a nurse. It came from observing her mother’s boss — a doctor.

“When I was in school, I wanted to be a doctor, and my momma worked for a doctor part time and I realized somewhere in this line that he was never at home, he never had anything to do with his family because he was always working,” she said. “So I decided that was out and I should do nursing, which gives me more freedom with my family and time to do whatever I wanted to do.”

Despite her heavy workload Austin still finds time to serve the community in other ways. She has done a great deal of community service in Vicksburg, including Relay for Life, Believers of Faith, March of Dimes, American Heart Association, and Mountain of Faith Ministries.

“I like to do a lot behind the scenes,” Austin said. “I’m not one that likes to be out in the spotlight.”

Austin lives her life by Philippians 4:13.

“I kind of live by the scripture, ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,’” Austin said. “I try to accomplish what I start.

“Whatever you decide to do in life, you need to make sure that it’s in your heart and have integrity and complete the job that you start,” she said.