Celebrating National Nurses Week 2024

This Nurses Week, we pause to honor the heartbeat of our healthcare family – our remarkable nurses! We’re grateful to each of Behavioral Health Group’s more than 380 nurses who inspire us with their compassion and unwavering commitment to patient care. Several of our nurses have shared their stories about choosing the nursing profession and what inspires them every day. 

Meet some of our amazing BHG nurses!

Cynthia Burroughs, LPN
Medication Nurse
BHG Tuscaloosa Treatment Center

"When I was growing up, I always wanted to be a nurse, but as you all know, things change in your life, and sometimes you must put that idea on the back burner for later. I started out in healthcare in June 1999, working in the business office at a local nursing home. I was the Medicaid Coordinator, wearing many other hats as well. My biological mom, whom I did not meet until I was 30 years old, became ill and was put in hospice. I helped take care of her, and she passed away four years later at the age of 52. During her illness, I began to pray about my future in healthcare and where God would lead me. After my mom passed, God showed me that being a nurse was my calling.

I had no idea how I would pay for the expense or how I would work around my schedule with two small children, one in kindergarten and the other not yet in school. I continued to pray for God's guidance, and believe me, prayers were answered. I received a full scholarship from my employer and applied for a grant to help with other expenses, and through this, I began my journey in nursing after being out of school for 17 years. God is so AMAZING!!! Believe me, it was a hard journey, taking 18 credit hours the first semester and working full-time. But I did it and made the Dean's list. You can do anything you set your mind to, no matter how hard it is.

Throughout my nursing journey, I have met a lot of great people and patients whom I will always cherish. I have also obtained my SCALF/ALF Administrators Licenses in 2016, on the day of my youngest daughter's senior graduation. This was a goal I set out to obtain before my daughter graduated. Again, GOD IS SO GOOD!!

I came to work at BHG Tuscaloosa in November 2022. It has been a blessing to see these clients work towards a goal and the smiles on their faces when they are praised for achieving it. Everyone must start somewhere, and with daily encouragement and courage, each one of them can achieve anything they set their minds to. As a nurse, it is my duty to make sure they know each day how proud I am of them and to keep encouraging them daily, even if they take a step back for whatever reason it may be. Remind them daily to always put one foot in front of the other and take one day at a time on this journey and to never give up on your goals."


Karen Gresham, MSN, RN
Medication Nurse
BHG Tuscaloosa Treatment Center

"My nursing journey started in 1979 when I graduated from LPN school. After obtaining my ADN, I worked as a psychiatric nurse in various capacities and continued my education to earn my MSN degree 25 years later. Psychiatric nursing and addiction have been the true calling of my career, particularly as a person in recovery. I retired from the acute psychiatric unit of our local hospital in 2019. I started at BHG Tuscaloosa in November 2022 as my retirement job. I work with an awesome group of people, and I believe we have a great clinic with a lot to offer our community. I am proud to celebrate Nurses Week with my colleagues, and I hope to be here for years to come."


Jessica Grubbs, LPN
Medication Nurse
BHG Paducah Treatment Center

"In 1997, my school faced a traumatic school shooting that deeply affected me. Witnessing the swift response and support from first responders from neighboring counties and states left a lasting impression. The compassion and dedication shown by the medical personnel at the hospitals also resonated with me for years. As I pursued my college education, I felt compelled to become a nurse to provide care and support to others the same way I saw during that difficult time.

Working as a nurse at BHG involves demonstrating compassion and dedication to individuals during their most vulnerable moments, just like the professionals who provided care to me and my classmates during our own time of need many years ago."


Emily Harrell PMHNP-BC
Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
BHG Medical Services - Knoxville

"From a young age, I felt a strong inclination towards the medical field, driven by a desire to aid those in need. Nursing seemed the natural path for me. After graduating with my ASN, I began my career as an RN on a med-surgical unit in a hospital. It was there that I discovered my passion for mental health. Colleagues often called on me to engage with upset patients, soothe them, or resolve conflicts—I found I could easily connect with them on a deeper level. My heart gravitated towards mental health, prompting me to pursue a BSN while working at a psychiatric hospital.

At this facility, I gained invaluable experience in addiction and mental health, recognizing the intrinsic connection between the two. Despite this, I felt compelled to further my career. Balancing my duties as an RN, I returned to school and completed my MSN, specializing in mental health to become a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP). In 2018, I embarked on my journey as a PMHNP at an OBOT facility, providing mental health services to patients with opiate use disorder.

It was here that I witnessed the transformative power of combining mental health treatment with Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT). Over the years, I've cultivated profound relationships with my patients, witnessing their remarkable journeys towards positive change. One patient's testimony stands out: addressing his mental health paved the way for his recovery from drug use, now celebrating over a year of sobriety. The progress from their initial mental health consultations to where they stand now is nothing short of remarkable.

Serving as their cheerleader, motivator, caregiver, and friend is a privilege. I am deeply grateful that my path has led me to this fulfilling vocation."


Jennifer Hicks, DNP, FNP-BC, PMHNP-BC
Doctor of Nursing Practice, Nurse Practitioner
BHG Columbia Treatment Center

"I started with BHG in April 2013; I had just graduated with my BSN, and BHG Nashville was my first job as a dosing nurse. I had no idea what I was getting into and took the first job that was offered to me. Little did I know that working for BHG would open doors for me and inspire me to continue working in this field. I went on to become a Doctoral Prepared Nurse Practitioner with dual certification in Family Practice and Psychiatric Mental Health. My Doctor of Nursing Practice work is published in the Journal of Breastfeeding Medicine after I studied infant feeding practices among postpartum women in Methadone Maintenance Therapy at BHG in Nashville. This study has helped shape infant feeding and breastfeeding recommendations among women in treatment. BHG is where my nursing career started as a Registered Nurse and is where I have continued to serve as a Nurse Practitioner. I am grateful for all the opportunities BHG has given me. I am grateful to serve our patients."


Kimberly Hiebert, LPN
Regional Nurse Supervisor
BHG Colorado Region

"The journey toward becoming a nurse wasn't a childhood aspiration for me. The decision to attend nursing school stemmed from a logical analysis, eliminating other potential paths. Traveling was my true passion, and the idea of remaining mobile led me to consider teaching or nursing, both offering job prospects regardless of location. In hindsight, I realize my initial mindset was narrow, limiting myself to just two options.

Ultimately, the prospect of dealing with school moms, drawing from my own experiences as a mother, steered me towards nursing. Little did I anticipate developing such a profound love for it over 33 years. My nursing career has seen me explore various specialties: geriatrics, sub-acute care, hospitals, clinics, and even eye surgery. But it wasn't until I discovered Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) that I felt a true calling.

For close to 15 years now, I've dedicated myself to MAT, encountering remarkable individuals along the way—colleagues, community members, competitors, providers, families, and patients. Entering this field, I was ignorant about addiction and drug use, but my patients have been invaluable teachers. Their candid explanations about drug use, addiction, lifestyle changes, and withdrawals have deeply impacted me.

Remaining non-judgmental toward others' pasts comes naturally to me, understanding that we all make mistakes. I hold myself to the same standard I hold my patients, acknowledging my own flaws, and striving for personal growth. Every interaction is an opportunity to extend kindness, fostering resilience and progress.

I've been touched by countless moments with patients that have brought smiles to my face. One patient, recalling her early days of treatment, marveled at my consistent kindness, initially skeptical that anyone could maintain such positivity daily. A year later, she acknowledged that this kindness was genuine, expressing how rare it felt to have someone in her corner. She shares her story with new patients, encouraging them to embrace treatment with hope and trust in our team's dedication.

In my time at BHG Denver, I've witnessed patients' journeys—successes, setbacks, returns, and transformations. Each triumph over addiction, legal troubles, or personal challenges fills me with gratitude. My goal isn't to change the world but to positively impact individual lives—one person at a time."


Julie Koenig
Chief of Operations
BHG Corporate

My earliest memory of wanting to be a nurse came about at 7 or 8 years of age. I am told I expressed this desire even earlier, and amusingly, there are video archives in my family validating this claim! I'm not certain who planted this idea in me at such a young age, but one thing I've always known is my desire to take care of people. To understand the path my nursing career has taken, it helps to know I grew up in a small town in Kentucky, with a population of about 350 people, and to this day, there is still no full-time physician. Over time, as my career in nursing developed, my dream evolved into working with great organizations like BHG, committed to driving quality and accessible care into these rural areas, much like where I grew up, where care is so desperately needed.

I've had a long career and have some great stories, but one of my funniest memories was when I was a Nursing Manager working in Home Infusion and was on call, which means you never really sleep because you will be called at all hours of the night. I remember the call that night was from a patient new to therapy, panicking over her central line, so I jumped in the car and ran out to see her. When I arrived, I walked in and realized I was wearing my fuzzy house shoes… I think they might have had a cartoon character on them… they were atrocious looking, you know the ones you keep because they are so comfortable but know you should throw them away. The patient took one look at me and laughed so hard I thought she was going to pass out! It was funny, but if you know me at all, you know I am a little particular about shoes (okay, I love them), so to show up with those ugly slippers on, well, I am just glad the patient had a good laugh. Ultimately, she was so thankful for the support that night.

I have shared this story over the years multiple times when I trained new nurses to infusion and basically told the teams… Okay, maybe put on some regular shoes before going out in the middle of the night, but the main thing is to not hesitate if the patient needs you, that is what we are here for. This really sums up my philosophy in nursing; we are here for our patients in some of their most difficult times when they need us most, and that holds so true for our amazing nurses here at BHG. I can’t think of a more difficult time in a patient’s life and their family’s life than when they are battling the disease of addiction. I am so thankful for all our BHG nurses; you make such a difference for our patients, their families, and the communities we serve.

Happy Nurses Day to all our nurses at BHG; we celebrate you today and every day."


Dawn Shepherd, LPN
Medication Nurse
BHG Longmont Treatment Center

"I suppose you could say being a nurse is in my DNA. I'm a very proud 3rd generation nurse! Following in the footsteps of my grandmother, my mom, and my aunt, I graduated from nursing school in 1996. I used to read through my mom's nursing school books and even tried to help her study for tests! I always knew I was going to be just like my family of nurses - I couldn't see myself in any other profession!

Being a part of an amazing interdisciplinary team that helps people in recovery is why I love being a nurse at BHG! I love seeing people every day, talking to them, hearing their stories, and being proud to be a part of their recovery.

I recently had a patient who was having a pretty rough morning - she was crying and mentioned that she didn't even have anything cold to drink in her home. I had a cold Dr. Pepper that I gave to her - she gave me a big hug and said that made her day! Everything we do, whether it's dispensing Methadone, being a sounding board, or sharing a cold Dr. Pepper - we impact our patients' lives every day in ways we probably don't even realize! #ProudNurse

I would like to say thank you for providing this outlet for all of my fellow nurses to share our stories!! Happy Nurses Week to all!!!!!"


Ashley Strong, LPN
Medication Nurse
BHG Paducah Treatment Center

"I began my journey as a small business owner in my early 20s, but soon realized it wasn't my passion for the long run. After contemplating a career in the medical field for some time, I found inspiration in my late mother, who was very nurturing in her role as a healthcare provider. Her unexpected passing in 2013 motivated me to pursue my dream of becoming a nurse and making her proud. Nursing has exceeded all my expectations in terms of fulfillment!

I started my career in corrections, which eventually led me to addiction treatment and my current role at BHG. Over the past four years, I have built incredible nurse-patient relationships that have truly touched my heart. I have shared laughter, tears, and prayers with my patients, always striving to show them that I genuinely care about their well-being and success in recovery. Each patient encounter has left a lasting impact on me, and I eagerly look forward to the experiences, both challenging and rewarding, that lie ahead. My ultimate goal is to positively impact at least one patient's life every day, all while honoring my mother's memory and legacy."