Suzanne Ledbetter, a charge nurse with the Austin State Hospital, is one of the top five finalists being honored by the Austin American-Statesman for its Recognizing Nurses campaign.
It was the balloons that made Suzanne Ledbetter realize something very good was happening.
When the Austin State Hospital charge nurse walked through the double doors of the conference room the morning of April 5, she was greeted by a disorienting sight.
To coax her to leave her station, Ledbetter’s supervisors told her that she was needed for some routine training. That, however, was a ruse. Instead, three dozen friends and co-workers erupted into loud cheers when she entered. It could even be described as fabulous.
The Austin American-Statesman chose Ledbetter as one of its Fab5 finalists for its Recognizing Nurses campaign. Now in its second year, the campaign identifies and celebrates outstanding nurses in and around Austin.
The Statesman sent a photographer and video crew to surprise Ledbetter with the recognition — complete with balloons, a box of treats from the Nothing Bundt Cakes bakery and a few dozen of her colleagues to celebrate with her.
“I had no clue at all,” Ledbetter said afterward of her reaction at the door. “I was in shock.”
That she rose to the top of a competitive and crowded field — the five finalists were chosen from a pool of 427 applicants — came as no surprise to Ledbetter’s colleagues.
2018 Recognizing Nurses Celebration
Come celebrate Suzanne Ledbetter and the other Fab5 finalists 6-8 p.m. on May 10.
The red-carpet event will take place at Warehouse 305, 305 S. Congress Ave. and will feature a cocktail reception, followed by an awards ceremony and celebration toast.
Throughout the evening, a silent auction will be conducted to benefit the Texas Nurses Association Scholarship Fund.
For more information about the event or to purchase tickets, visit recognizingnurses.com.
“You want to stand where she is,” said Nurse Manager Leslee Hanks. Another, Nurse Supervisor Barbara Carroll, described her as “a light.”
Ledbetter has come a long way in a relatively short career at the state hospital. She started work at the facility four years ago, directly out of nursing school.
She was recognized quickly as a rising star on staff and earned a promotion to charge nurse in July 2016.
Ledbetter works on the Specialty Services unit, a particularly demanding area within the state hospital where she has to bring her leadership, positive attitude and emotional intelligence to care for clients who have intellectually and developmentally disabilities, psychiatric illness, mental conditions, physical conditions and typically some behavioral issues.
Carroll wrote in her nomination submission that nurses like Ledbetter “are not here for the ‘Kodak moment’ or the pay — they are here because they generally care for clients and will try to move the earth to help them battle a system that is not always helpful.”
Ledbetter finds out if she’s the big winner May 10 at the Statesman’s gala event honoring the Fab5 finalists.
For her to be named a finalist sends a message about the quality of the workforce at Austin State Hospital, Ledbetter said.
“We have amazing people who work at ASH on a day-to-day basis.”
The hospital is just one of many organizations chasing qualified nursing candidates. Ledbetter said she hoped her being honored will help with recruitment and with retention.
“I hope it shines a light” on the work being done at Austin State Hospital and that graduating nursing students and others looking to enter the nursing field pay attention, Ledbetter said.
“This is a hospital that takes pride in helping this population.”