In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

June 10, 2021

Special pair of surgical scissors frame Danielle Jackson’s passion for nursing

By In the Loop

Mayo Clinic has played a role in Danielle Jackson's life from the day she was born. A special pair of surgical scissors — handed down from her great grandmother — is now a steady companion in her work as a critical care nurse.

From the moment Danielle Jackson was born, she's has had a connection to Mayo Clinic.

Danielle entered the world at what was then Luther Hospital in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. She later attended daycare at the hospital, where her mother, Tammy Jackson, was a nurse manager in Primary Care.

In kindergarten, Danielle enjoyed family dinners in the hospital cafeteria when her father — Daniel Jackson, now a retired cardiovascular nurse — was working late. And she remembers often waiting in her parents' offices until they got done with work.

The experience had a profound effect on her.

"A lot of people joke that I have 'Mayo blue' blood," Danielle says. "My parents are my career role models. They raised me in the hospital setting, and I watched them be extremely passionate about putting patients first. And I took that to heart."

By fourth grade, Danielle knew she wanted to become a nurse, and she began to work on that dream after graduating from high school.

Guided by passion

Danielle's educational path took an unexpected turn after she enrolled at Winona State University. She could not get into the nursing program right away despite having the needed qualifications.

But she didn't give up. She found a different path.

Danielle transferred to Southeast Technical College in Winona, Minnesota, to get an associate degree in nursing followed by another stint at Winona State University to earn her Bachelor of Science in nursing.

"It's a different way of doing it, but I value my technical degree so much because it was so hands-on. There are a lot of ways to become a nurse," Danielle says.
She then began her Mayo career as a medical-surgical nurse in Eau Claire and later transitioned to the Critical Care Unit, where she worked for 2½ years.

"I love working as an ICU nurse because it allows me to care for a diverse set of patients. I somedays have patients who are sick with sepsis and some who have just returned from cardiac surgery," Danielle says. "I am not only able to care for these individuals and their families in very difficult times, but I am also able to help these patients get better and transition to other parts of the hospital so that they can further their health care within our system."

A special gift

Danielle Jackson's surgical scissors, passed down from her great grandmother.
Danielle Jackson's surgical scissors, passed down from her great grandmother.

Danielle and her parents weren't the only members of her family who chose a career in nursing. A reminder of that arrived one Christmas before Danielle was getting ready to graduate.

"In a very memorable moment, I was gifted a very special set of surgical scissors," Danielle says.

The surgical scissors were initially given to her great-grandmother, Thelma Hodson, who earned her nursing license in 1933. Hodson then gave them to Tammy Jackson, who ultimately gave them to Danielle.

"I continue to use them in my bedside nursing to this day for dressing changes. They are the stainless German steel kind and have weathered the test of time and seen many, many patients throughout the years," Danielle says.

The passing of the surgical scissors through the generations wasn't always so certain. Danielle says her mother once lost them for two years, but thanks to her last name being engraved on the scissors, she eventually got them back. Danielle, whose name is also engraved on the scissors, now keeps a red tag on them to make sure she won't lose them.

"Sometimes I have physicians asking me if they can borrow them ― and they can ― but I will follow them around," Danielle says with a chuckle.

Not just another staff member

Danielle Jackson

After recently getting married, Danielle is now preparing for her next chapter at Mayo Clinic Health System. She recently moved to Barron, Wisconsin, where she will begin a new nursing job in June.

Anchored by the values her parents instilled in her, Danielle says she loves that at Mayo, she is not just another staff member.

"I'm not just a number to my supervisors and my nurse managers, and our nursing executives and physicians. I am myself. I am valued as an individual nurse," she says.

As for the surgical scissors, Danielle says they will remain a steady companion in her day-to-day work, and she hopes to one day pass her passion — and the scissors — to her future children.

"I am passionate about helping others, and nursing is such a wonderful profession," she says. "There are so many things you can do, whether it's at the bedside or as a manager. There are endless possibilities. I really hope my future children will follow in my footsteps."


Tags: Danielle Jackson, Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire, Staff Stories, Tammy Jackson

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