Shanta Hinson has retired from her nearly 40-year career in nursing at TriStar Horizon Medical Center in Dickson.

And Hinson, 60, might actually see just a little less of her family now that she is retired.

Hinson’s son, Chas, is a respiratory therapist; her daughter, Adrian, is a social worker; and her daughter-in-law, Ashley is a registered nurse. All three work at the Dickson TriStar hospital. However, they all live in homes on the same road in Charlotte.

Shanta said she is retiring because of breast cancer for which she was diagnosed in 2011 and 2019.

“My husband, Mark, was like, retire, retire, retire, and let’s spend some time together,” said Shanta, who has been married to Mark for 32 years. “It took me about a year to come to grips with that. And then I turned 60, so I thought to myself - OK that’s a good time. I’ll retire at 60. I’m on medical leave. At the time I separate, I’m looking at 38 years.”

She said that a circle of friends and family first got her interested in nursing.

“I had an aunt that lives very close by, and she was a nurse that worked here,” she said. “My Sunday School teacher worked here. So, I was surrounded by nurses who worked here. So, I went back to school at Tennessee Technology Center up here, and I got my LPN.  I worked for about 12 years as an LPN.  Then I went back to school and got my RN.”

Shanta’s daughter said that she has been strongly influenced by her mother.

“Mom’s had multiple positions here,” said Adrian. “She’s worked her way up. So, I think we’ve almost seen every aspect of the hospital. Mine was more like I wanted to do healthcare because it’s like I grew up in a hospital that I was comfortable with. But I didn’t want to be in charge of saving anyone. I didn’t want that responsibility. So, I initially wanted to do forensics so I could work with someone after they had passed. 

“In the meantime, Mom was helping care for my great-grandmother when I graduated undergrad school. So, I became interested in geriatric care from that. So, that’s why I wanted to be a social worker. So that’s when I kinda changed direction. But even in high school, and I think Chas did to, we both took the healthcare tracks.”

Chas took a non-healthcare career to start.

“I did construction before this,” he said. “Then in 2008, construction went bust, and that’s when I got into healthcare. While construction was going down, people in healthcare were getting overtime. So, I made a career change. It’s a good change. Helping people, it’s rewarding.”

Ashley’s interest in nursing started on a mission trip when she was 18.

“Seeing the way that Third-World countries were run tugs at your heart,” she said. “Seeing what you can do when you come back home – that was my trigger. I wanted to take care of people. It was a medical field trip. We took blood pressures and things like that on the people there. So, when I came back home, I wanted to be a nurse, and that was all I wanted to do.”

Family schedules

Shanta said she enjoys watching coworkers and friends make a positive difference in the lives of others.

“One of my nurses runs a little Facebook group that she put together,” Shanta said. “She was asking what made me feel worthwhile in what I’m doing. I think that comes when you see a patient who has been really, really sick, and maybe dependent on others, and have had a hospital stay, and then feel much better, and they’re able to go home.  We also have a rehab unit here. So, to see somebody go home independently I think it’s great. 

“Then, in my role as a nursing director, not only to see patients recover, but to see nurses reach career goals, that’s one of my favorite things.”

Adrian has been a social worker for about 12 years.

“We’re a small community, and we live in Charlotte,” Adrian said. “So, this hospital has been here all of my life. I feel like it’s very family-oriented, and it’s also community oriented. So, anything you’re doing here impacts somebody you know that knows somebody else that you know. So, you’re helping your community.”

Chas noted that his mother is a good leader. Ashley described Shanta as a “Proverbs 31 woman” who is a leader, mother, and wife.

Get-togethers at the hospital between Shanta and her family are rare because of their different schedules.

“Chas works weekend nights so he’s never here when we are,” said Shanta. “Ashley works 3-12 and we see her sometimes. Adrian and I are here Monday through Friday together.”

Adrian said that most workers eat with their assigned groups, usually revolving around meetings.

“I call her all the time or go to her office,” Adrian said. “Ashley comes to my office since Mom is gone.”

Shanta said that she expects to have some schedule adjustments in retirement. One that is already happening – she gets out of bed at 7 a.m. now instead of the 5 a.m. workday time.

“I miss being here – a lot,” she said. “I’ve worked from home a lot. When COVID numbers would get high here, I’d work from home. The cancer gave me an opportunity to withdraw a bit, but I do miss what’s going on. I talk to the manager that is going to take my position three times a week. It keeps me updated as do the kids. I miss the life of being a nurse. I guess that’s how I’ve always identified myself, and I’m going to miss that.”

Family plans

Shanta said that traveling is at the top of the retirement list for her and her husband.

“My husband plus Adrian and I went on a trip out west,” she said. “We wanted to see some national parks like the Grand Canyon, Death Valley, Yosemite park. We want to go up the East Coast and eat lobster in Maine.”

Shanta enjoys reading (she said she likely will get some audio books now) knitting, crocheting and embroider, as well as bragging about Ashley and Chas’ two kids — Brody, 11, and Harper, 6.

“I made my grandson a blanket that I’m going to give to him tonight,” she said. “I love making things. I want to leave something for my two sisters and my brother. I knit for them as keepsakes.”

Adrian said that some of the nurses at the hospital have received a knitted baby blanket from Shanta.

“We’re not just caring for patients, we’re caring for family, dependents, community, friends, etc.,” Shanta said. “It’s all that the patient impacts or is impacted by.”

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