Batson OR registered nurse Kyle Dickerson hoists the Golden Stethoscope awarded to the winning team in the 2018 gurney races.
Kyle Dickerson, Children's Hospital OR nurse, hoists the Golden Stethoscope awarded to the winning team in the 2018 gurney races.
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Say it with food and fun: UMMC appreciates its employees

Published on Thursday, May 2, 2019

By: Ruth Cummins

Will the Golden Stethoscope change hands this year?

Not if registered nurse Kyle Dickerson can help it.

“Smooth Operators,” a Dickerson-led team of Batson Children’s Hospital caregivers, will defend its title in the third annual gurney races, a fast and furious competition set to roll at 5 p.m. May 16 in front of the University of Mississippi Medical Center Student Union. Instead of being the popular centerpiece of the May 6-10 national observance of Nurses Week, though, gurney racing is moving to the national observance of Hospital Week.

But Hospital Week, set for May 13-17, will actually be celebrated here as Employee Appreciation Week.

Don’t be confused. There’s an explanation for the changes.

Hospital Week was changed to Employee Appreciation Week to be more inclusive of UMMC’s 10,000-plus workforce. The gurney races, previously a competition mainly for nurses, will now take in employees from all walks of the Medical Center.

“We were the first team to register for the races this year,” said Dickerson, who holds down the control desk at the Batson OR suite. “We’ve been talking about this since the last one ended.”

“Healthy U, Healthy Mississippi” is the Medical Center’s theme for Employee Appreciation Week. UMMC’s theme for Nurses Week is “Healthy Nurse, Healthy U.”


Employee Appreciation Week is sponsored by the UMMC Alliance, a volunteer group dedicated to supporting needs of patients and their families and making possible a number of hospital beautification projects. “The Alliance recognizes that our most important asset is our employees,” said Shana Cook, Alliance president.

“They make small miracles happen every day at UMMC for our patients,” Cook said. “The Alliance believes that by supporting employees, we help make a difference in the communities we serve.”

Highlights of Nurses Week include prize drawings, opportunities to be professionally measured for athletic shoes, on-campus walking events, an open house for the Office of Nursing Quality, a free American Nurses Association webinar, and several bake sales. For the complete calendar, click here.

In addition to the gurney racing, events for Employee Appreciation Week include visits by local food trucks, farmer’s markets, blessings of employees’ hands at the UMMC Chapel, and relaxing activities offered by Active Health and University Wellness. Click here for the complete list.

Employee Appreciation Week “is intended to represent employees across all three mission areas as well as the service areas at UMMC,” said Paula Henderson, chief human resources officer. Employees “are appreciated every week of the year at UMMC, but we’re taking this week to show you in a big way.”

London Williams is a researcher and lab manager in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics.
London Williams, researcher and lab manager, works in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics.

London Williams, a researcher and lab manager in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics, has been a Medical Center employee since January 2018. She didn’t know much about last year’s Hospital Week observance, but plans to take advantage of some of this year’s treats.

As an employee, Williams said, she’s been recognized for a job well done. “I think it’s perfect,” she said. “In our student community of research and scientists, we are very much appreciated.”

Portrait of Stormy Carr

Employees who strive daily behind the scenes to help make Mississippi a healthier state should be appreciated, said Stormy Carr, sponsored program administrator for the Biomedical Materials Science Department in the School of Dentistry.

“Once an employee is appreciated, they feel more valued and will take that extra step to go above and beyond what is expected,” Carr said.

Portrait of Joshua Jefferson

Josh Jefferson, manager of the research core for the histology and immunocytochemistry laboratory, enjoyed Hospital Week activities last year. “I went to the food trucks, and I got a free massage,” Jefferson said. “I saw the pets outside the old ID badge station.”

Expanding the recognition week to all Medical Center employees was a good move, Jefferson said, because those on the research side sometimes feel a little forgotten.

In addition to Dickerson, the Smooth Operators include Dr. Barry Berch, associate professor of pediatric surgery; Jonathan Nichols, a Batson surgical technician; Dr. Nils Mungan, professor of ophthalmology; and biomedical engineering technician Jamie Wade.

Dickerson said his team’s work dynamics give it a winning attitude. “Coming from the OR, you have to lean on each other. You can trust the people around you. You know each other.”

Will they practice? Maybe, maybe not.

“Last year, we just showed up and won the thing,” Dickerson said. “We might do that again this year.”