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story.lead_photo.caption Lyndee Owens, left, and her sister Courtney Owens started their nursing careers together at Saline Memorial Hospital in Benton this summer. The sisters, who graduated from Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia in May, said the best part of being a nurse is the relationships they form with patients. - Photo by Sam Pierce

Lyndee Owens said the most rewarding part of her job are those special patients who take the time to thank her.

“I have had patients who have hugged me before they leave — that’s rewarding,” she said. “You were their nurse; you helped them to go home.”

Lyndee and her sister Courtney Owens work as registered nurses at Saline Memorial Hospital in Benton.

“You do have those special patients who love you a little bit more than the others,” Courtney said. “We are very appreciative.”

The sisters began working at Saline Memorial in July after graduating from Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia in May.

“Nursing school isn’t easy; that’s for sure,” Courtney said. “It is a tough career path and journey in school, but it is so worth it and so rewarding.

“If you really want to do this, keep at it.”

Courtney, 22, graduated from Kirby High School in 2013, and Lyndee, 23, earned her GED diploma in 2012. The two are just 18 months apart.

“After starting college and being able to go through nursing school together, it just wouldn’t have been the same if we weren’t able to start our nursing careers together at the same hospital,” Lyndee said in a press release from the hospital.

Courtney said she hasn’t experienced a “truly life-changing experience” in her short time at Saline Memorial, but she said patients do make a difference in her life.

“Where I work, I usually do see the patients more than once,” Courtney said. “That gives me a chance to get to know them more as a person and not just a patient.

“I wouldn’t say I have a strong connection with a patient. We’ve just been able to connect and talk about things other than the medical part.

“We have talked about Christianity, and I have prayed with patients. … I think [the patients] have had more of an impact on us than we do on them.”

Lyndee and Courtney are members of Mount Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church in Langley, about two hours from Benton. Courtney said their faith was one of the driving forces in the sisters becoming nurses.

“Being able to help others and shine Jesus’ light is my favorite part about being a nurse,” Courtney said.

The two actually work in separate departments of the hospital. Lyndee works in the emergency department, and Courtney said she works in the medical and surgical department.

“As nurses, we administer medications, start IVs, give shots and do assessments on patients,” Courtney said. “We do a lot. It keeps us busy.”

They also work different shifts at the hospital, with Lyndee working from 1 p.m. to 1 a.m., and Courtney not getting home sometimes till almost 9 a.m. But the two do live together in Benton.

“Me, working in the ER, I work midshift, and it is safer for new nurses down there,” Lyndee said. “We always have nurses there to help us when needed.

“It is a good place for new nurses to be.”

Lyndee said the middle shift is usually the busiest time of the day, but there are more nurses on the floor during that time.

“This is a time when [patients] are really sick and really need help,” Lyndee said. “We get to help them, get them better and back up to what they normally do.”

Lyndee said school doesn’t really teach students the emotional side of nursing.

“They teach you more hands-on, physical, do this for the patient. It doesn’t show you how to be compassionate toward a patient,” she said.

“It is more books and learning anatomy,” Lyndee said.

“The rest is something you learn in time as a nurse,” Courtney said.

Courtney said she plans to further her education and earn her master’s degree to become a pediatric nurse practitioner.

Courtney and Lyndee come from a family of nurses. Their mom, Robyn Abernathy, has been a nurse at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock for 10 years, and their older sister, Jalyn Crellin, is also a nurse.

“I always thought I wanted to be in the medical field. I just didn’t know where I wanted to be,” Courtney said. “Seeing [my mom] and the joy she has for taking care of people, we just want to take care of others like she does.”

Now the biggest hurdle facing nurses such as the Owens sisters is a shortage of nurses for hospitals.

“It is not a matter of when there will be a shortage; there is a shortage, even here,” Lyndee said. “A lot of nurses are having to work overtime and extra because we don’t have as many nurses as we would like.

“So I would definitely love to see more people go into nursing.”

Courtney said nursing school is very tough, and that may be what scares people away from pursuing the career.

“It requires a lot of discipline and patience. For two years of nursing school, you don’t have a life,” Courtney said.

“You study, you sleep, and you eat. That’s basically what two years is all about,” she said.

“You have to have that discipline to actually get through it,” Lyndee added.

Staff writer Sam Pierce can be reached at (501) 244-4314 or

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