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Nurses Week Feature, Nursing Faculty Member Reflects on 50 Years

National Nurses Week is celebrated annually from May 6, also known as National Nurses Day, until May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing. To Mary Lynn Brown, a beloved professor at the College of Nursing the week is a way to reflect on the tremendous impact nurses have on health care.

“Nurses Week is a time to think about the numerous opportunities and venues nurses practice in and make a difference in,” said Brown.

While Nurses Week has always been important to Brown this year is unique.

“I graduated from nursing school on May 8, 1971,” said Brown. “Exactly 50 years later my youngest daughter, Jennifer Reagan, will be crossing the stage on May 8, 2021, to receive her bachelor of science in nursing.”

Reagan will begin her career in the Cardiovascular Step-Down Unit at Fort Sanders Regional where her mother worked 40 years earlier.

Brown, the oldest of seven children, always dreamed of being a nurse. “I decided I wanted to be a nurse in elementary school,” said Brown. “My mom’s oldest sister was a nurse and talked about nursing when she came to visit. It was a perfect fit for me. I never lost the passion I had for nursing when I graduated 50 years ago. Nursing is a great profession- always challenging and exciting.”

Brown joined the College of Nursing in 1997 and has spent the last 24 years mentoring and guiding student nurses.


“Working with students to help them achieve their goals of becoming a VOL Nurse is important,” said Brown “I believe we need to provide support and understanding as students face more than the challenges of academics. “I tell my students, Brown said. “The road may be difficult and present many challenges but together we can achieve success.”

Brown’s passion and dedication have earned her numerous clinical and teaching recognitions, including ten College of Nursing Outstanding Classroom Teaching Awards; 2012 Alumni Outstanding Teaching Award; two DAISY Faculty Awards; the 2009 Chancellor’s Excellence in Teaching Award; and 2003 Excellence in Education Award, a national award from The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses.

“Though I have won many teaching and clinical awards during my career,” said Brown. “My greatest accomplishment has been reflecting on my 50 years of nursing and the impact I have made on the lives of hundreds of patients, families, students, and colleagues at the University of Tennessee, College of Nursing”




Kara Clark (865-974-9498,