Honoured for a lifetime of care
Beverley Howell cannot remember wanting to be anything other than a nurse.
So, after a 42-year career, she was delighted and surprised to be named Nurse of the Year 2016.
“It's a big honour. I never expected it,” Mrs Howell, 62, told The Royal Gazette.
“It was a complete and total shock even though I knew I had been nominated.
“To be chosen by your peers is both humbling and awesome. I'm thankful to the Bermuda Nurses Association and the nominating committee and whoever nominated me.
“But I have to say, to God be all the glory, because we think we do things for ourselves but everything happens the way it's supposed to and He always has the plan.
“I want everything to honour and glorify Him and I want Him to get all the honour and all the praise out of everything I do because it's not about me at the end of the day, it's all about Him.”
The evening and night clinical administrative manager at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital started her career through a two-year programme with the School of Nursing in 1974.
“I've always wanted to be a nurse, from a little girl,” the Warwick resident said. “I do not remember ever, ever wanting to be anything else other than a nurse.”
After working at KEMH for two years as the youngest nurse, Mrs Howell was seconded to attend the University of Alabama in Huntsville to pursue a bachelors in nursing, graduating with honours.
She credits her uncle, Raymond DeShield, for helping her achieve this lifelong dream. “If it had not been for him, I might not be a registered nurse,” she said.
“I owe everything to him; he took me to college and when he left Huntsville, Alabama, he left no stone unturned for me so that I could be successful.”
Upon returning to Bermuda, she took her masters in management and human resources development and has since held various positions at KEMH, from staff nurse to clinical coordinator. She took up her post as evening and night clinical administrative manager in 2014.
“I love being a nurse. I am very passionate about it. I make a difference in somebody's life every day, every single day. How many people can say that?”
Mrs Howell said she always tells people she has never worked a day in her life, because nursing brings her such great joy that it does not feel like work.
And although there may be challenges, Mrs Howell always tries to stay positive and see the miracles in life every day.
“You can see the glass half-full or you can see it half-empty and for me it's always going to be half-full,” she said, adding that she always aims to be “part of the solution”.
“I'm always striving to be the best I can be. I don't have to be the best but it has to be my best — that's important for me.”
Mrs Howell readily admits that she sets high standards for herself and her team.
“We have people's lives in our hands — you can't afford to take shortcuts.”
In 2007, she became the Bermuda Government's first wellness coordinator, working with the Department of Public Transportation.
She is also the corporate, community and medical facilitator for the Complete Health Improvement Programme in Bermuda.
Mrs Howell has also taken her passion for helping others to the airwaves, hosting Magic Mornings with Beverley Howell on Magic 102.7.
By celebrating life and focusing on the mind, body and soul, she aims to encourage people to have hope, be healthy and help others.
“Because one thing I really know is that to live is to give and to give is to live,” she said. “We're not put on this earth just for ourselves — we have to give back.”
Her Health is Wealth segment is sponsored by Bermuda Healthcare Services and the Brown-Darrell Clinic and she extended a special thank you to former Premier Ewart Brown for his support.
She also thanked Gwen and Glenn Blakeney, of Inter-Island Communications, for encouraging her to take up the radio offer despite her initial reluctance.
Mrs Howell is also keen to encourage Bermudians to enter nursing, stating that there “is a worldwide shortage of nurses”.
But she stressed that while there are good employment prospects, nursing is not for everyone.
“You have to be caring, you have to be compassionate — you want to be able to help somebody and have the understanding that to live it to give and to give is to live.
“You have to want to do nursing.”