A Nurse for Change
Helping Hands, Healthy Hearts

Gregory Jones

Photo by Hannah Lynch

Gregory Jones (NUR '00) has a prescription for nurses. First, never forget why you became a nurse. If it's for any reason other than to help people then you are in the wrong field. Second, treat the person not the diagnosis. Third, let excellence and compassion guide your career. Last, always offer to others what you would want for yourself and loved ones.

Jones is a powerful example of this prescription. He currently works as a patient care supervisor of emergency services and Heart Safe coordinator at St. Francis Regional Medical Center in Shakopee, Minnesota, located just southwest of Minneapolis. Purdue's School of Nursing recently recognized him as one of the school's "50 Golden Graduates" in honor of its 50th anniversary. And in 2012, Mpls. St. Paul Magazine named him one of 20 outstanding nurses in the Twin Cities. The honor is especially meaningful since nominees are recommended by doctors, fellow nurses and patients.

"I feel this recognition has nothing to do with me, but rather is a reflection of dedication and perseverance to a cause," Jones says. "It's something anyone is capable of accomplishing."

One of his passions is education, and he is especially proud of St. Francis' Heart Safe designation for the cities it serves. The designation recognizes a Minnesota community's efforts to prepare its staff and citizens to recognize sudden cardiac arrest and how to respond.

As Heart Safe coordinator, he developed a community education campaign that helped 43 businesses and churches establish an emergency response team. During his nursing career, he has taught CPR to more than 10,000 people and heart health classes to more than 8,000.

"Because of this work, rather than dying from a heart attack, there are dads who get to walk their daughters down wedding aisles and moms who get to bake cookies for their grandkids," he says. "Public education prevents many of those 'if only' conversations."

It may come as a surprise that Jones hasn't always been a nurse. He joined the U.S. Navy straight out of high school and worked as a naval aircrewman. In 1996, he decided to leave the military and searched for a career that would offer stability and more time to spend with his family. He also wanted something that would be mentally challenging and offer the opportunity to help others. Nursing seemed a good fit, and his initial concern of being a male in a predominantly female profession was soon dispelled.

Jones says he chose Purdue because it was a large university with a small-town feel, had an excellent reputation, and he could enroll directly into nursing school.

He credits his successful nursing career to his Purdue experience. "The Purdue nursing instructors made it very clear that excellence was not only a lifelong pursuit, but wholly expected in the here and now," he says. "I knew it was my duty as a Purdue nurse to carry on that legacy."

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