PINEHURST – Jennifer Caviness always knew she wanted to do something in nursing, but she wasn’t sure what.
Jennifer Caviness, R.N.
Then, to fulfill a requirement of her nursing program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she spent a summer working as a nursing assistant in the emergency department at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital.
If there is such a thing as professional love at first sight, Caviness experienced it. “I loved it,” she says of her emergency department summer.
Caviness was recently named the 2013 ED Nurse of the Year by the Sandhills Emergency Physicians, the group of specialists who provide physician coverage at all four FirstHealth of the Carolinas hospitals. The award goes to the emergency department nurse who best exemplifies the special skills and care required for ED nursing. Nurses from all four hospitals are considered.
Caviness is currently the night-shift clinical nurse leader for the Moore Regional Emergency Department, the area in which she has worked since she got her nursing degree.
“Jennifer has always been a very reliable nurse in night shift,” says James O. Lewis, M.D., medical director of the Moore Regional Emergency Department. “She always keeps the ED flowing and is always calm, even in the most heated situations. She has excellent clinical skills and has earned the respect of her staff. In addition to that, she is an integral part of the ED administration team. Even after long night shifts, she actively participates with outstanding input into the direction of our department – and it’s always with a smile.”
Caviness says she loves the variety of emergency department work and the opportunity to help patients and families during what is often a very difficult time.
“You can be the person who is there to support them, someone to lean on and make that moment better,” she says. “Lots of patients don’t have anyone, and we can be that person.”
A Moore County native, Caviness graduated from Union Pines High School and earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing from UNC-Chapel Hill in May 2001. She joined Moore Regional’s ED nursing staff the following July and has been in the clinical nurse leader post since 2009.
She and her husband, Glenn, a teacher at Union Pines High, have an 8-year-old daughter, Laura.
Caviness’ supervisor is Kris Owens, R.N., clinical director of the Moore Regional ED, who won the very first ED Nurse of the Year Award. Owens describes Caviness as a “true asset to the ED team” who is loved and respected by the nurses she supervises and who “leads with grace and fairness.”
Both she and Caviness recall that the ED Nurse of the Year announcement came the morning after an unusually challenging emergency department night in terms of volumes and patient care need.
“She teared up and said the timing was perfect,” Owens says.
“I was extremely surprised,” says Caviness. “We had had a very rough night that night, and I was kind of on autopilot. I work with a lot of good nurses, so I was very honored to be selected this year.”