Kathy Coley compares nursing to life’s journey, during which you pick up pieces along the way that produce a caring, accomplished professional. Coley is just such a professional who has helped countless patients in her distinguished 35-year nursing career. Coley has devoted much of her career to St. Luke’s Hospital, where she has worn many hats, including the newest as a licensed health care risk manager. She is responsible for tracking adverse events and developing techniques to reduce such cases. “You want to be proactive rather than reactive,” she said. She also is a project coordinator assisting nursing administration with the transfer to a new hospital on the Mayo Clinic campus, while helping St. Vincent’s transition to the current St. Luke’s hospital. While experiences such as these have given Coley an appreciation for the “administrative side of the house,” much of her career has been spent on the front line. She has been a staff nurse, charge nurse and nurse manager in the emergency room at St. Luke’s and the former University Medical Center. Coley finds the hands-on patient care and family contact to be the most rewarding part of nursing. “It’s a very emotional connection with patients and their families. That’s why I got into nursing, why I stay in nursing and why I will never leave nursing. That sense of reward has never left me.” Her passion for nursing is reflected in Coley’s designation as one of the “Great 100 Nurses in Northeast Florida” in 2005The first “piece” Coley collected in her nursing journey was an associate nursing degree from Florida Community College at Jacksonville. While balancing her nursing career and family responsibilities she enrolled at UNF where she received her bachelor’s degree in nursing in 1979. “It was a wonderful program that enabled me to do something I desperately wanted to do.” She specifically singled out faculty member Dr. Pat Foster for being “a wonderful role model and a very good mentor.” Nursing education continues to be a high priority for Coley, who sees UNF as playing a critical role in satisfying the pressing need for more nurses. “UNF offers a tremendous benefit to the community, working with the hospitals to expand the nursing program.” Coley and her husband Andrew, who is a Jacksonville physician, have been involved in education in other ways. The couple has endowed a women’s studies lecture series at the University of Georgia, in memory of their daughter Andrea (1972-1993), who was a certificate candidate in Women’s Studies. Each spring, the lecture series brings to campus scholars doing cutting-edge research in the area of lesbian and gay studies. The civic and career pieces Coley has collected over the years have yielded a professional who is talented, passionate and caring with her life-saving skills.