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Women's History Month: Sharing Stories of Inspiration

| Date Posted: 3/16/2023

March is Women's History Month, a time to celebrate the contributions of women and how their efforts and bravery throughout history have given women the opportunities and freedoms they have today. Several leaders across FirstHealth are sharing stories about the women who inspired them to pursue their dreams.


Donna Strong
Director of Regional Medical Transport for FirstHealth EMS

Donna has been with FirstHealth for more than 20 years and also helps coordinate our paramedic academy. Below, Donna shares her thoughts on Women's History Month and her journey in health care. "Women’s History Month gives us an opportunity to celebrate the women who have stood for change and fought for equality and opportunity across our nation. When I began my EMS career in 1981, there were very few women employed in EMS and most areas were served by volunteer rescue squads, including our FirstHealth region. The membership of local rescue squads was made up of mostly white males and many thought women could not do the job, physically or emotionally. Having grown up on a tobacco farm I didn’t believe that to be true.


My inspiration came from the determination to foster change and be a voice for the women who were interested in EMS but afraid to speak up and push forward. Our Rescue Squad in Star, N.C. grew to a membership that was half female and racially integrated. Our squad worked as a team utilizing the talents of our volunteers, promoting fairness and equality among our membership.


Many of this group stepped up and pushed Montgomery County to become the first in our area to advance to the paramedic level. Montgomery County EMS later became the first FirstHealth 911 EMS County. I am proud to be a part of the FirstHealth EMS System at FirstHealth, a team I joined as a critical care paramedic with MooreLife in 1995 and later the EMS director at FH Montgomery when less than 10% of NC EMS Directors were women. This organization has been a leader in EMS in NC in several ways, such as the first multiple county system in NC, and has continued to challenge the state regulations when adjustments were needed to work in our hospital-based system."


Genteal Pelzer
Associate Nurse Executive at Moore Regional Hospital


Genteal Pelzer said this month is a time for her to be thankful for the female trailblazers who came before her and "created a path in which I could be a leader in a female-dominated profession." "It’s a reminder that anything is possible and that giving everyone a voice and the possibility to reach new heights is essential. I know it sounds cliché, but my mom inspires me daily. I lost her a few years ago, and keeping her memory alive and remembering how much she loved, supported and was proud of me keeps me centered and pushes me to be a woman of courage, faith, and love.


I am proud to work at FirstHealth because I work with and for some phenomenal women who make a difference every day. Our nursing team is led by a CNO with a vision and a clear voice for empowerment. She’s able to fight and advocate for all nurses and patients while fighting personal battles, too and it makes me proud to learn from her and see where she will help us take nursing forward at FirstHealth."


Stacy McClain
Imaging Director, Moore Regional Hospital - Richmond


"Women's History Month is inspiring and motivating. It’s impactful because it highlights the achievements of women both past and present. Sharing achievements will inspire current and future generations of women to emulate the same courage and make an impactful difference in our world.   


The women that work in the imaging department at MRH-Richmond inspire me daily. These women, that are in all different stages of life with different responsibilities outside of work, show up every day with a smile on their faces. They have compassion and their mission is to help take care of people. They inspire me to want to become more innovative with new ways of taking care of our patients. Their ideas, plans, and overall drive to grow is something that motivates me to pursue making a positive impact as a woman in health care and in our community.


I am proud to work for an organization that recognizes and encourages diversity in the workplace. FirstHealth leadership has empowered and encouraged women to pursue greatness. Early in my career I was determined to show that I wasn’t here to clean the glass ceiling, I was here to shatter it.  I am proud to work for FirstHealth where they don’t have a ceiling for me to try and shatter; they only have floors to climb."

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