COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shows 10 years from now, South Carolina could face a shortage of 10,000 nurses.
It’s a number Columbia woman Shirley Bannister is working to change every day as she works to inspire the next generations of nurses.
“I feel like, in order for our community to get more nurses or to have more nurses, nurses have to advocate for our careers,” said Bannister, who is the Department Chair for Nursing at Midlands Tech.
Bannister said nursing is her “God-given passion” that, to our surprise, she first shared as a little girl on the Mr. Knozit show on WIS.
“When he asked what we were going to be, I decided I was going to be a nurse because I had health issues and I liked what the nurses were doing,” said Bannister.
Bannister added that stuck with her and, despite setbacks in her early education, she got her LPN degree at Midlands Tech at 19. She continued her education eventually obtaining her Masters and, after 30 years in gerontology, she’s spent the last six years back where it all started -- at Midlands Tech.
“Coming back to the college when we need so many nurses, it's just a passion of mine,” said Bannister.
Bannister’s colleagues said she lives that passion by volunteering with groups that give at-risk children and middle and high school students exposure to the nursing field.
“She finds more than 24 hours in the day and I don't know how she does it to make the world a better place,” said Kelly Horn who is on the nursing faculty at Midlands Tech.
Horn said Bannister has reached thousands of prospective nursing students through her efforts that go above and beyond her job title, which is why she nominated her as a Community Builder. Kim O’Quinn surprised Bannister with the news.
“Shirley, I'm so pleased to say that you are our most recent Community Builder and I want to thank you so much for everything you do for the students here at Midlands, Tech and as a mentor for the nursing students, and your coworkers and your family are here to say, ‘Congratulations!’”
An emotional Bannister said she was humbled and called her family out for keeping the secret.
“Did y’all know about this?” joked Bannister.
Her daughter said it was a surprise worth keeping and she couldn’t be prouder of her mom.
“We watch Community Builders and knowing that she was going to be a part of this organization and getting this award from Mungo it was like, ‘Oh my gosh, she's worked so hard and she totally deserves it!’” said Demi Bannister.
As a Community Builder, Bannister receives a $1,000 donation to the charity of her choice from the Michael J. Mungo Foundation.