Bishop Retires from NMMC Women’s Hospital
TUPELO, Mississippi—Registered nurse Karen Bishop of the North Mississippi Medical Center Women’s Hospital recently retired after 42 years of service.
A native of Granite City, Illinois, Bishop graduated high school in 1977 at age 17. Too young to enter college in Illinois, she moved to north Mississippi to live with her grandmother and attend the former Itawamba Junior College. “They would let me enroll at 17 so long as I didn’t graduate before I was 18,” Bishop explains. As part of her studies, she worked part-time for several months as a nursing assistant at NMMC. She graduated from IJC’s combined Licensed Practical Nurse/Nursing Assistant program and joined the staff of NMMC’s Maternal Child Unit as a full-time LPN in October 1979.
When Women’s Hospital opened in 1986, Bishop was part of the crew that helped new mothers and their babies settle in after being moved from the main hospital. “It was calm chaos,” she recalls. She worked for many years as a nurse in the Well-Baby Nursery and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit before becoming a lactation consultant for breastfeeding mothers.
Bishop went on to earn her associate degree in nursing at Northeast Mississippi Community College in Booneville in 2005 and has been an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant almost 20 years.
Highlights of Bishop’s career include transitioning to a Mother-Baby Unit (where mothers and babies share the same room), the observance of a Golden Hour (the first time parents and baby spend time together as a family) and skin-to-skin contact (when the baby is laid directly on the mother’s bare chest after birth). These practices and many others helped NMMC Women’s Hospital achieve the highly prestigious international Baby-Friendly designation in 2020.
Bishop says her favorite part about helping new mothers breastfeed was “being able to teach them in those beginning days and getting them off to a good start.” She was honored as an outstanding nurse at least twice during her tenure—she won NMMC’s Excellence in Nursing Award for Non-Traditional Nursing Excellence in 2012 as well as a DAISY Award.
Co-workers helped Bishop celebrate with a retirement reception in her honor Nov. 11. “It has been my life,” Bishop says of her nursing career with NMMC. “You have a home life and a hospital family life. Many of the people here I’m as close to as my own family.”
Retirement will allow her to spend more time with her husband, Jerry; daughter, Julia (Justin) Milstead; 8-year-old grandson, William; and 90-year-old mother, Ruth.
The Bishops live in Tupelo and attend First Baptist Church in Plantersville, where she sings in the choir. She also looks forward to traveling, cooking, drawing and painting more.