Dedication, compassion and character are still paramount to a nurse's success. These are all traits that Edna Shoffner instilled in her students over the 33 years that she served in the Tennessee Technology Center of Shelbyville's Practical Nursing Program.
Between 1962 and 1995, she and her colleagues provided nursing education for 696 Licensed Practical Nurses. These students were asked to run the gamut of practical nursing, but were greatly served for it.
Boards were passed and jobs were had.
TTC of Shelbyville's Coordinator of Fiscal Services and Human Resources, Amy Martin, spent more than 20 years as one of Edna's colleagues, and she spoke of a term that folks used to describe students who had gone through the program.
"For years, we have described our students as being "Shoffnerized," because she set such a high standard," Martin said. "Not only at the Technology Center in Shelbyville, but a standard for everyone across the state. If someone was an Edna Shoffner nurse, employers wanted them."
One of Edna's first students was Mildred Roberts, who enrolled in the very first practical nursing class at the school. She wholeheartedly agreed with Martin's distinction of a "Shoffnerized" nurse, and spoke of her former instructor with a smile.
"Edna was an excellent teacher," Roberts said. "She taught us to calmly do the right thing. We knew the proper techniques and how to be a grief counselor. I've been in the room many times and helped wipe the tears of the family."
Although it has been 50 years since Roberts was recruited into Edna's first nursing class, she still recalls the lessons taught by her instructor. She cherishes the decision that she made to enroll in the nursing class at 46 years old after Edna's recommendation.
And still, five decades after the program began, Edna's influence is still felt by both past students and current students. Her values still perpetuate the lessons taught by the instructors, and the school's nursing complex has been renamed the Edna Shoffner Allied Health Complex.
Perhaps most proudly, though, her name is used to honor one of the program's strongest students each year.
Martin and Edna's widower, Allen Shoffner, came up with an idea 10 years ago to honor her devotion to the program by creating the Edna Shoffner Award for Honor and Excellence. For Allen, it's the perfect way to memorialize his late wife, and reward a student that she would've been proud of.
"It's something that awards a person for excellence," Allen said. "That's what Edna would've wanted, and what I want to continue."
This year, the award was bestowed upon Jennifer O'Brien, who was given the recognition based on the opinions of her peers. She demonstrated diligence, leadership and empathy during the course of her studying to both her peers and patients, and was well-deserving of the award.
Her instructors said that O'Brien had cultivated her knowledge base, had been proficient at applying that knowledge, and is now ready to take the next step into the nursing profession.
Just as important, however, is the truth that O'Brien is a student who the namesake of her award would've been proud of, and you can say that she's been "Shoffnerized."It's been five decades since Edna Shoffner started the practical nursing program in Shelbyville, but her presence is still felt by past and present students. Members of her first class from 1962 were: Front -- Matilda Chambless, Faye Smith Taylor, Doris Bynum Rollings, Jane Tune Lile, June Tune Holland and Ruth Smith. Back -- Lucille Shields, Reba McAfee, Margaret Herrin, Mildred Roberts, Virginia Gunter, Lucille Granger, Edna Nash and Helen Cooper.