A good day to save a life

Luanne Wilson helps patient, Carol Rice, sit up during her clinical at Harrison Memorial Hospital while she is completing her Masters in Nursing Education. She teaches nursing at Licking Valley Campus of Maysville Community and Technical College and played an important role in their No. 3 rank in Kentucky nursing programs.

Luanne Wilson chuckles when she receives a text from a former student: “Thanks for pushing my limits and my ass in class.” 

Photos of past classes and a quilt that reads “It’s a good day to save a life” cover the walls of her office at Licking Valley Campus of Maysville Community and Technical College. She teaches nursing, and her passion for her hometown and its people drive her commitment to the success of her students.

“If you’re going to do something, do it right,” she says with a shrug. “I want to see good things come out of this county, and I want to be a part of it.”

At 60, when most would begin thinking about retirement, Luanne shows no signs of slowing down. Not only does she teach full time,  but she is also studying for her Masters in Nursing Education. And in spite of the heavy workload, she's helped the Licking Valley MCTC nursing program to a 100% graduation rate and the No. 3 ranking in the state — making it the envy of instructors at the main MCTC campus. “They ask us to share our secret for success. We don’t have time for that!”

When asked why she keeps going, Luanne says, “It’s always been a people thing.” She knows the backstories to most Cynthianans, whether they are from her high school class, a relative of a friend, or a member of her church congregation. She becomes animated when talking about funny moments with friends, of which there are many. And she softens to a hushed voice when sharing stories of students who face challenges she will never understand.

In the classroom she is stern and serious about the content of her lecture, weaving in anecdotes from her own nursing experiences to stress her point. At the same time she manages to sprinkle moments of humor throughout the lesson with a contagious laugh. The students soak her up. And when they come by her office after class, she stops what she’s doing, gives them a good hard look and asks about life.

“It doesn’t matter whether you know anybody or not, somebody is going to be friendly to you.” Luanne says of Cynthiana. “I can remember my dad saying, when we lived in Richmond, Virginia, ‘I’d give $100 to be able to walk down the street in Cynthiana and somebody say “Hey Randy! How you doing?” whether they meant it or not.’ That is what draws me here.”

She greets people she knows everywhere she goes. And she means it when she asks, “How you doing?”

Luanne gathers her things before her clinical at the hospital. She must complete her master's to continue teaching at MCTC.
Luanne visits her mother, Virginia Ashbrook, after work. They have a tight-knit family, and Virginia proudly says that she hears from all of her children nearly every day. She lives next door to the house in which she raised her family.
Luanne and fellow nursing student, Macy Arthur, chat between patient visits.
Luanne regularly visits her mother-in-law, Phyllis Wilson, at Cedar Ridge Health Campus to help with routine tasks.
It's all hands on deck at the small nursing program where Luanne is one of three instructors. They move chairs to the lab before class.
Students at Licking Valley Campus of Maysville Community and Technical College ask for feedback on a diagnosis from Luanne.
Luanne hugs a woman at Cedar Ridge. She makes rounds greeting residents and asking about their family members during dinner. She offers sympathy, makes them laugh, and is clearly loved by them.
Luanne enjoys dinner with her husband, Mike. and son, Ben, at Applebee's at the end of a long week.
Luanne takes a rare quiet moment before the busy day ahead.