Janet Clayton always told her children that becoming a nurse is the best career decision anyone could make.
Clearly, they all heeded her advice.
The Winston-Salem, North Carolina, mother of five has two daughters and three sons – all working in the medical field. Her daughters, Sarah Ward and Jenny Hester, are both registered nurses at Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center. Sarah works in the emergency department, while Jenny works in the cardiac intensive care unit.
One of Janet’s sons, Justin Clayton, also a registered nurse, worked in the cardiac intensive care unit at Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center. He is currently in school to become a nurse anesthetist and will graduate in December. Janet’s other two sons, Grayson Clayton and Ryan Clayton, are respiratory therapists at Novant Health Thomasville Medical Center and Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center, respectively.
Janet joked that their schedules don’t always sync up for spending family time together. “It makes it really difficult at holidays, but we manage,” she said.
Where it all began
In 1975, Janet graduated from the nursing program at Forsyth Tech and immediately started working at Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center. In 1980, she had her first baby, Sarah, and was impressed with the labor and delivery unit. She asked for a department transfer and, in 1981, she began working in the women’s center operating room.
Janet has been there ever since. This year marks 42 years with Novant Health.
“I didn’t push any one of my children to get into the medical field, but I supported them in their choices,” she said.
A family affair
When asked whether their mother had an influence on their decisions to work in the medical field, all of Janet’s children were adamant that their mother played a big role in their career choices.
“Absolutely, my mother influenced me to become a nurse,” Jenny said. “It’s what I’ve wanted to be ever since I was a little girl. I dressed up as a nurse almost every Halloween.”
But as she got older, Jenny discovered she wanted to become a nurse because she admired the love a nurse has for patients and their family members. “The caring and compassion aspect of it is what really drew me to the field,” she said.
Sarah echoed her sister, saying she’d seen her mom as a nurse for so many years, she couldn’t think of anything else she’d want to do.
“I’ve been in the emergency department for 11 years and I love it,” Sarah said. “Every day is a new day and I love being able to help people.”
Justin said growing up around the health care field and seeing both sisters become nurses also influenced him.
“I decided in high school I wanted to go into nursing because there were so many areas for growth and even graduate-level degrees,” he said. Justin began a nurse anesthesia program in Charlotte, North Carolina, in August 2015.
His mom couldn’t be more proud.
“I always sort of wanted my daughters to be nurses,” Janet said. “I didn’t think about my son. But he really wanted to take it further than the rest of us have.”
Ryan said his mother was definitely a big influence in getting everybody into health care. She encouraged both sons to take advantage of the certified nursing assistant program throughout high school. After that, Ryan said he knew he wanted to do something medical. He became interested in respiratory therapy after his older brother, Grayson, completed the program.
Grayson jokingly said his mom was a typical nurse, especially when at home. “We didn’t go to the hospital unless we had something hanging off. She took care of the rest.”
With varied skill-sets in many areas of nursing, Jenny joked that together her family could handle just about any situation thrown at them.
“I think my family could do a really good job taking care of people,” she said with a chuckle. “We are well-versed in all areas. But in all seriousness, my mother raised us to love and give back in every way we could, and I think that has a big impact on why we chose health care.”