HALEYVILLE - It takes so much more than a college education to become a nurse. It takes a heart and mind geared toward serving others in the best and worst of circumstances. One Haleyville lady’s dedication and success in nursing has brought her one of the highest honors that can be bestowed on a nurse in Alabama.
Dr. Judy Bittinger will be formally inducted into the Alabama Nursing Hall of Fame during a ceremony on Thursday, November 9, at the Bryant Conference Center in Tuscaloosa. Bittinger was surprised when she received a phone call saying she was being named to the prestigious hall.
“I had not heard of the Alabama Nursing Hall of Fame. I had to look it up online. Once I did and read some of the biographies of previous inductees, I felt even more honored and humbled to be included in the hall of fame, not only that someone took the time and effort to nominate me, but that I was chosen as one of the eight to be inducted this year,” Dr. Bittinger said.
Dr. Bittinger came to nursing after marrying Richard “Bicycle” Bittinger and having her two children, Gina and Richie.
“When my children were small, I began thinking about what I wanted to do when they started school and I would have time to pursue a career. I had always been drawn to the medical profession and helping others. Living close to a junior college that offered a nursing degree where I was able to commute and still take care of my family made the decision pretty easy. I also wanted a career that offered flexible schedules and plenty of opportunity to advance and specialize in the future,” Dr. Bittinger said.
After receiving her RN license in 1978, Dr. Bittinger began her career as a registered nurse at Burdick West Hospital in Haleyville, now known as Lakeland Community Hospital. She immediately went back to school at the University of Alabama-Huntsville to earn her bachelor’s degree while continuing to work full-time. After a short stint as a med-surg nurse, she became the director of education and quality assurance for the hospital while she completed her Bachelor of Science in nursing, then earned her Master of Science in nursing at UAH, again while continuing to work full-time. Dr. Bittinger receiving nothing but support from her family.
“It took a lot of cooperation and assistance to balance school, work and family. Thankfully, my family survived my being away from home so much and were always supportive of my career,” Dr. Bittinger said.
After earning her master’s degree, Dr. Bittinger continued pursuing her education, receiving her certification as a family nurse practitioner. She began working collaboratively with multiple physicians at the Haleyville hospital Haleyville to assist them in providing coordinated care to their patients under the new Prospective Payment System.
See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.