Featured Femme: Trilby A. Barnes-Green Nurse Extraordinaire

Trilby A. Barnes-Green is an entrepreneur and women’s health registered nurse who resides in New Orleans, Louisiana. She currently practices telephonic nurse triage at Ochsner Health System. Nursing is near and dear to her heart! She routinely participates in health related community events and maintains active membership in national health organizations. Trilby served in leadership roles throughout her 40 year nursing career. She is currently treasurer of the national and New Orleans chapter of the National Black Nurses Association and a member of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses.

Trilby with Members of the New Orleans Black Nurses Association

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am happy to share that I am 62 years old! I’ve been married for 12 years this year. I am blessed to have a 27 year old daughter as well as a daughter and son through marriage. I have 4 sisters and 1 brother. I was adopted by my great aunt and uncle. Growing up some of my siblings and I lived in close proximity, and some in other states. We all have the same mother, we are blessed to know and love each other very much and have a strong sibling bond. I am proud to be an adopted child, my experience allowed me to help so many people personally and professionally.

I appreciate coming from the small town of New Iberia, Louisiana (LA). I enjoyed experiences such as youth leader and speaker, playing the piano, and leading the church choir. Those experiences gave me footage to stand and be proud! Upon graduating high school I initially enrolled at University of Louisiana at Lafayette, but I hit a stumbling block there. I thought I would have access to the same type of mentoring I received throughout my educational career, but that was not the case. I sought assistance regarding succeeding in the curriculum but the implication was you just may not really do well with nursing, and I was steered towards social studies. However, in my heart I yearned to be a nurse, that was my calling. At that moment I enrolled in school to become a licensed practical nurse (LPN).
After becoming an LPN, I asked my dad if I could go to Charity Hospital School of Nursing (CHSN) in New Orleans, LA to become a registered nurse (RN). My dad was hesitant to allow me to go to New Orleans because I was ‘too’ friendly; but it just so happened that my cousins were newly stationed in New Orleans via the Navy. My dad agreed to me living with family. I lived with them for a year while working as an LPN at the newly opened Jo Ellen Smith Hospital. After a year I moved into the dorm and began the nursing curriculum at CHSN and became an RN.

Trilby with her husband Pertnan and daughter Linzi

What inspired you to become a nurse?

Initially, I wanted to be a hairdresser, because I did hair around the neighborhood. I also had an aunt who was a hairdresser and I admired her independence. My dad challenged me to step outside my comfort zone and outside of the realm of what I saw everyday. So I had to dig deep, that brought me to nursing! All of the women in my life were caregivers. My adoptive mother took care of anyone who was sick. Now that I look back on it I realize that she was the best hospice nurse ever! She went where ever she could go to give help. Some of the women in my family/community worked as sitters, they wore their pristine white uniforms with so much pride! They were renowned in the area, everyone would hire them as sitters. That is were I got the inkling for being a nurse.

Trilby at the Neonatal Health Advisory Forum

You successfully owned and operated a nurse-staffing agency for 25 years; can you tell us about that experience?

I always had a desire to be self-employed. I was willing to move into the staffing industry at a staffing organization, but I was denied. I completed several administrative tasks including the development of the agency’s employee handbook, but the organization did not want me as a nursing administrator. So,I asked what I could do to better prepare myself for an administrative position? I was offered a non-nursing staffing position. I declined that offer and informed them that I would start my own staffing company. They laughed!

I went home that very day and started writing ideas and a business plan. I reached out to another nurse (Ellen Webster) who also had an entrepreneurial spirit and she provided guidance on issues such as contracts. She also connected me with an agency who needed a nursing administrator, so I did that for some time to gain additional experience. Ultimately, I started working for myself as an independent contractor with various hospitals in the area. It was difficult at first because area staffing agencies were fighting against independent contractors, because that meant less nurses working for agency. Soon hospitals started declining independent contractor nurses. An administrator that I met at one of the area hospitals told me I needed to establish myself as a company. I had been working on my business plan the whole time and thankfully it took me no time to develop Medi-Lend!

Once Medi-Lend was on the hospitals’ staffing roster, I had to hire additional nurses to meet the demand. After hiring additional nurses I continued to work in the hospital, I was always by a nurse’s side. I did it because I have a genuine love for nursing; I also wanted to be paid appropriately as a nurse and as a business woman. I did not want the nurses at Medi-Lend to feel like they were coming to work for me, but that we were going to work together. When I decided to close the company, I still had the desire to work and continue to do so.

Trilby with colleagues and members of the National Black Nurses Association

You recently enrolled in college to continue your nursing education. What inspired you to further your education?

I am currently in the process of earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing! The bottom line is no matter how good you are at something or how far you have succeeded in life, the academia is going to come to the forefront. So if it does not align it will not have the same relevance to some people.

To give respect to the institute of education, I decided to find out what nurses are experiencing when they speak about returning to school to get their BSN, masters, or doctorate. I’ve spoken to them and mentored some, but I wanted the actual experience. What I forgot to mention in the beginning is that when I decided to become a nurse I also wanted to open the first black owned woman nursing school! I got distracted once I became a busy entrepreneur and people around me affirmed that I did not need to return to school! Going back to school is fulfilling a dream that I had to be as highly educated in nursing as I could possibly be. I also plan to obtain a master’s degree in nursing who knows maybe even that PhD is in my horizon.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

My advice would be to get a lot of rest! Drink at least 64ozs of water daily. Take care of your body, be the best that you can be to your body! Keep your family healthy and keep your community healthy!

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