Rachelle Nash, LVN, left, and Carol Hill, RN, are employed with the Paris-Lamar County District and assist 40-plus patients a day at the primary care clinic. Both women stress the importance of breast cancer screenings, noting they have had family members who have battled the disease.

Two nurses employed with the Paris-Lamar County Health District started their careers in rather unique fashion. One dreamed of becoming a veterinarian. The other did not choose her profession.

Today, both women are successful professionals who love their jobs and enjoy caring for their patients. Furthermore, they are delighted to work with one another.

Carol Hill, a registered nurse, has been employed with the health district for 19 years. Her co-worker, Rachelle Nash, a licensed vocational nurse, has been there five years. Both women describe having a solid working relationship.

“We work in tandem,” Hill said.

“We’re a team,” Nash added, while sitting alongside her co-worker in the otherwise vacant health clinic on a Friday morning — a day in which the office is typically closed.

Hill, a twin, described herself as “not the dominant sibling,” which was something that seemed to have caused her mom and dad concern.

“I was timid,” she said.

So when it came time to choose a profession, her parents made the decision for her. She would become a nurse.

“Turns out it was a good fit for me,” she said. “I wouldn’t do anything else in the world.”

While growing up, Nash, like many kids who love animals, wanted to become a veterinarian. But a family friend helped change her mind.

“Have you thought about being a nurse?” he asked.

Then he made a rather bold move by inviting her to observe a surgery. While watching such a procedure might not be for the faint of heart, that was not the case for the country girl who had witnessed and assisted with veterinary care for livestock. Her passion for nursing was born.

“This is where I am supposed to be,” Nash said.

Recalling the early days in their medical training, the women described their introduction to clinicals. Hill, who is softhearted and wanted to ease her patients’ pain, was less than thrilled to learn her first day of clinicals consisted of doing injections. Afterward, the stress overwhelmed her.

“I just cried,” she said.

But not in front of the patients, of course.

To get through the ordeal, Hill kept reminding herself a shot is only painful for a moment but it can lessen the chances of more pain in the long run. Despite her initial apprehension, she was commended on her work.

“The instructor said I did a great job,” Hill recalled.

Nash, who knows Hill’s skill with a needle firsthand, vouched for her friend’s ability to give injections.

“They are painless,” she said.

Nash’s first day of clinicals was also stressful. While her assignment was patient care, that wasn’t all there was to the story. Her patient was the father of her instructor — a merchant seaman who had suffered a stroke. The stroke had left him a different man.

“His personality had changed,” Nash said, noting he was prone to yelling and cursing.

“I went home and cried after that one,” she said.

Despite those early, somewhat traumatic experiences, both women grew to love their work.

Hill enjoys the interaction with her patients and strives to meet their medical and emotional needs by giving them the best care possible.

“I treat them like someone near and dear to me,” she said.

Nash feels the same way.

On a slow day, the nurses assist 40 or more patients. Additionally, they handle labs and phone calls. Although they officially work 40 or more hours a week, in reality they are always on duty in some way, shape or form.

“Nursing is essentially a way of life,” Nash said.

Hill agreed.

“Once you leave these doors, you are still a nurse,” Hill said.

Recently, Nash was at a county fair when she saw a child who had been injured and quickly went to help.

Hill has also rendered aid while off the clock. She described the time her babysitter called reporting she may have broken her ankle.

“I told her to elevate it and ‘I’m on my way,’” Hill said.

People often see the off-duty nurses when they are out and about town grocery shopping and doing other chores. Sometimes the person knows them and asks health-related questions, and sometimes just seeing their uniform is enough for a stranger to strike up a conversation and voice concerns about medical issues.

When they are able to focus on something other than work, the women enjoy spending time with family. They also share a love for music. Both women sing and have lifted up their voices as members of church choirs.

Nash is also the lead singer for The RhythmAddicts, a local band that features classic rock, blues and country. They perform at such venues as the Red River County Fair in Clarksville, the local Balloon Fest and Mannequin Night, which is set for Oct. 19 at East Side Plaza in downtown Paris.

“My music is a release,” Nash said.

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