ANA Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation® - #healthynurse Spotlight Series - Marilyn D. Harris, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN 4740

ANA Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation® - #healthynurse Spotlight Series - Marilyn D. Harris, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN


Veteran nurse shares her secret to lifelong vitality and fulfillment beyond retirement

In the nursing field, demands are constant, and pressures are unrelenting. Few have managed to navigate the demands with as much grace and resolve as Marilyn D. Harris, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN.

With a career spanning over 7 decades, Marilyn’s story is a testament to resilience, passion, and an unwavering commitment to stay involved in the nursing industry.

A Career Anchored in Compassion
For Marilyn, nursing has always been more than just a profession; it’s a calling rooted in her desire to connect with patients on a personal level. From her early days as a bedside nurse and switch to home health care, to her later roles in administration, Marilyn's career was marked by one thing: dedication to understanding the holistic needs of her patients.

"I loved meeting people where they lived," reminisces Marilyn. "Hospitals are necessary, but they're kind of artificial places. I loved being able to go into the home, see where people lived, and see all the challenges they had."

No matter where Marilyn was or what position she held, her commitment to compassionate care remained steady. Whether comforting patients in their homes or leading home health care teams as a director, empathy and kindness were Marilyn’s guiding lights.

Embracing Change and Innovation
Over the years, the nursing profession evolved, and so did Marilyn’s role. She witnessed the transition from paper charts to electronic medical records. She experienced the growing pains when 9-to-5 home health care services became 24/7 home health care services. Marilyn faced each new challenge with a spirit of adaptability and a positive attitude.

"A lot has changed since I was a visiting nurse," says Marilyn. "We used to have the time to sit with someone and even have a cup of tea when appropriate. Now, it's: Get your business done and get your charting done."

Still, Marilyn has always looked at new challenges through rose-colored glasses. She embraced innovation and change, recognizing them as opportunities for growth rather than obstacles to overcome. By being open to emerging technologies and evolving health care practices, Marilyn remained at the forefront of her field.

Another major part of Marilyn’s health and longevity is her spiritual wellness. She finds spiritual fulfillment and strength through active involvement in her faith community, which has been a cornerstone of her life since childhood. Despite her busy schedule, Marilyn attends church regularly and says it gives her a sense of purpose, support, and inner peace.

4b000002616d7fab4963c0b5ca9ffbb1-huge-blTo relax in her spare time, Marilyn enjoys knitting and embroidery. She has a special passion for Swedish huck embroidery, which she learned as a teenager. She recently earned a first-place blue ribbon for one of her intricate and meticulously crafted projects.

All of this helps Marilyn to lead a healthy and active life.

Keeping an Active Body and Mind During Retirement
At the age of 64, Marilyn retired from nursing. Today, at age 88, retirement has done little to slow her down. While she’s not earning a paycheck as a nurse, she’s still an active and engaged member of the nursing community. Every day, she leverages her experience to drive positive change in the field.

From serving on boards to volunteering at memory care units, Marilyn's days are filled with purpose and passion. She:
  • Is a distinguished member of editorial boards such as Home Healthcare Now
  • Actively contributes to organizations like the Nursing Foundation of Pennsylvania as vice president and the International Home Care Nurses Organization as a board member
  • Is a lifetime member of the American Nurses Association and Pennsylvania State Nurses Association
  • Has written and published more than 200 articles and writes for enjoyment in her spare time

"I've met a lot of great people from other countries through writing," Marilyn reflects. "You get to know people around the world."

Some of Marilyn’s published articles and books include:
  • "The Effect of Home Health Nursing Care on Patient Outcomes” in the International Journal of Family & Community Medicine
  • Handbook of Home Health Care Administration
  • "Transforming Care: A Nursing Perspective" from a conference organized by the Jefferson College of Nursing in Philadelphia
  • "Scope and Standards of Home Health Nursing Practice”

Inspiring Others Through Action
In her 80s, Marilyn continues to blaze trails and inspire others. Her message to fellow nurses is clear: Embrace change, stay engaged, and never underestimate the power of a compassionate heart.

"Nursing isn’t just a profession; it's a calling and commitment to making a difference in the lives of others," says Marilyn. "Through all the changes and challenges, nursing remains a beacon of compassion and care, and I'm grateful to have been a part of this noble profession."

Marilyn D. Harris, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, is a retired home health nurse and an active member of numerous boards and foundations, including the International Home Care Nurses Organization.

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Blog #healthynurse Spotlight 04/17/2024 12:50pm CDT

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The #healthynurse Spotlight is a shout out to nurses who are making changes in their lives to improve their health and wellness. You can too! Read their stories for inspiration here.