Published on July 01, 2008

Recognizing One of Iowa's Greats

For the fifth consecutive year, Mary Greeley Medical Center has a presence on the list of 100 Great Iowa Nurses. Melissa Peterson, R.N., O.C.N., was recognized on May 3 at a ceremony in Des Moines along with 99 of her peers. Peterson is a registered nurse on the Oncology unit at Mary Greeley Medical Center.

Melissa Peterson, RN, O.C.N.

"I have always told others that I don't want to just be a nurse, I want to be a great nurse," Peterson says. "There are days that are more difficult than others, but this is confirmation that I'm working toward that goal."

Peterson admits that she wasn't "born" to be a nurse. She began her career in health care as a secretary and was inspired by her supervisor to work toward excellence in everything she did. After some encouragement from that supervisor and others she decided to give nursing school a chance.

"I would have never guessed I would end up a nurse," she says. Peterson graduated from Mercy College in Des Moines in 2004, worked one year in the Pediatric Intensive Care unit at Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines, and joined the staff of the Mary Greeley Medical Center Oncology unit in 2005.

"It has been a natural progression for me," Peterson says. "I am surprised at how easily nursing has come to me. Even when I transitioned from pediatrics to oncology the change felt natural."

It's that natural approach to caring for others that secured Peterson a spot on this year's list of honorees.

"Melissa shows a tremendous amount of compassion to her patients and their family members," says Sue Scoles, R.N., B.S.N.,M.P.A.,
director of the Oncology unit. "She gets to know her patients very well. And she has several patients who come back to see her after they've completed their treatment. That speaks very highly of the kind of care she provides."

The 100 Great Iowa Nurses program was established in 2005 as a way to recognize the efforts of the state's thousands of nurses.
Nurses selected for the honor represent many sectors of health care, including hospitals, long-term care facilities and school and office nurses.

Organizers bill it as a statewide event that belongs to the people of Iowa. The event is made possible through the support of sponsors including Mary Greeley Medical Center. Similar celebrations are held in the states of Louisiana, North Carolina and Texas. For Peterson, the recognition is humbling.

"I'm honored and I really don't know what to say," she says. "I just know that I enjoy working with people and getting to know my
patients. That really helps me provide the best care I possibly can."

For a complete listing of winners from 2009 and previous years, visit