Nurse of the Year Winner: Brenda Jo Jarrard

Nurse of the Year Winner: Brenda Jo Jarrard
Brenda Jo Jarrard of Booneville Human Development Center

Brenda Jo Jarrard has been a registered nurse for close to 30 years and goes to work each day not for the paycheck, but to help her patients and enrich their lives and those of her co-workers.

As Jarrard put it, the most rewarding thing about her work is “helping people that need my help.”

Inspired by her own hospital experiences when she was young, Jarrard decided to enter the medical profession. As a nurse at Booneville Human Development Center — a psychiatric, residential care facility — Jarrard is a case manager for 35 adult male patients with intellectual disabilities severe enough that they can’t live on their own.

The toughest conversation she's had at work, Jarrard said, was having to tell a family that surgery for a cancer patient wasn’t possible because of the spread of the disease.

Driven by such memories, Jarrard routinely uses her own money and time to serve her patients beyond the responsibilities listed in her job description, which includes utilizing her skills at crafting and sewing. She makes purses for the young women of a given unit and alters patients’ clothes at no charge.

Her compassion extends to her co-workers. Jarrard made Christmas stockings for the center’s entire medical department.

Jarrard believes the best way to serve patients is through hard work and teamwork, and she actively fosters a team environment, serving as a role model for patients as well as other nurses and caregivers.

If a patient has no family or caregiver, Jarrard will volunteer to attend doctor’s appointments with them and volunteers at a free clinic once a month. She also advocates for people with special needs in the community by supporting the Special Olympics.

Returning to her sewing skills, in the past year Jarrard sewed a golf quilt sold at a silent auction to benefit patients at the human development center.

Jarrard exemplifies the kind, caring nature that is the epitome of nursing.

Jarrard earned her certificate at WestArk Community College, now the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith.