Hometown public servant: Teresa Buckles

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Our hometown public servant for this week is Teresa Buckles, FNP. A resident of Millen, Buckles began her employment with PruittHealth Hospice and Palliative Care of Swainsboro on Aug. 10, 2020. Prior to taking on this new job opportunity, she navigated an extensive and impressive career history.

“I entered the Air Force right out of high school. I was always inspired to be a nurse and wanted to pursue a nursing career while in the military but, at that time, it was the beginning of Desert Storm, so there weren’t any medical jobs available due to other medical staff occupying the positions,” Buckles explained.

After waiting for the opportunity to pursue her dream career of being a military nurse and no doors opening, Buckles received a call from her recruiter with a great job opportunity. It would require her to pass an exam that focused on her ability to learn a new language.

The first step toward this new job opportunity was being tested on a made-up language to evaluate her ability to perform job requirements. Buckles succeeded E1 expectations and came out in a top-ranking status of an E3. Having such success in passing the exam, Buckles traveled to Monterey, California, where she underwent one year of education at the Defense Language Institute and became a Crypto Linguist Specialist.

“It was a hard school. After completing my education there, I knew I could do nursing,” Buckles said.

After completing her courses at the Defense Language Institute, Buckles’ primary focus in her new position as a Crypto Korean Linguist Specialist was listening to things that happen in the world under top secret security clearance.

Buckles resided in several places while with the Air Force, including Texas, Hawaii, California and South Dakota, before being honorably discharged.

After her extensive service to our country, Buckles then began to pursue her nursing career. She graduated from Georgia Southern University in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in nursing and, as a registered nurse, entered the field of nursing employment the following year in 2004. While working and taking care of her sons, Buckles furthered her education by attending and graduating South University, where she obtained her master’s degree as a family nurse practitioner.

Buckles landed the first job in her nursing career as a critical care nurse at St. Joseph’s Hospital of Savannah in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). However, with factors taking away from her home life, such as the long commute, coming home late and cooking dinner for her family just to go to sleep and wake up to leave once more, Buckles needed a change. She transferred her employment to Statesboro, where she worked at East Georgia Regional Medical Center while still working PRN with hospice.

“I was working seven days a week, sometimes, before taking on a nursing supervising job offer at the hospital,” Buckles explained. “I supervised the entire hospital for the next 14 years while still dabbling in different areas of nursing. I then took the opportunity to serve as the hospital’s director of ICU for a year. At this time, after giving up my hospice job, I worked the emergency room while continuing my supervising duties.”

Following these accomplishments, Buckles began the next phase of her career at an internal medicine office in Statesboro, where she worked for three years before venturing to Swainsboro.

“When the Covid pandemic hit this year, my job required more sitting and computer use. As we began to accept more and more patients, I began feeling burnt out from not being able to take care of my current clients as I’d like to. I felt in my heart a change was needed. I wasn’t actively looking for a new job, but wanted to see what options were out there. So, I ran across an email about the job opportunity in Swainsboro and submitted my application. I didn’t really expect anything to come of it, but it did,” Buckles explained.

Applying to a job posting for a nurse practitioner for a palliative program in Swainsboro, a new field and start of a new program, Buckles’ leap of faith served her well. After going in for two interviews, she was advised after the last meeting with PruittHealth staff that a decision for the position would be made after other interviews were completed.

“I left the office and went to a nearby store. While there, I received a phone call from PruittHealth offering me the job position. I had already spoken with my husband about the opportunity after the first interview and he said, ‘I think you should take it.’ So, that’s what I did,” Buckles shared.

“My heart said I needed to. I started orientation August 10 and gave my previous boss a 30-day notice. After completing my notice for my old job, completing orientation for PruittHealth, and attending a vacation to celebrate our daughter getting married, I began my new role as family nurse practitioner at PruittHealth Hospice and Palliative Care in Swainsboro. Since coming to work at Pruitt, I have felt the sense of belonging. Everyone is so nice and accepting of me. I feel like I fit in – Pruitt is like a family.”

Teresa is the wife of Phillip “PJ” Buckles, an employee at Millen Prison. The couple call their 40-acre landsite with private river access “home” as they wait for the building of their home to be completed. Together, the Buckles share six children, Jayson, Garett, Allie, Meg, Brandyn and Jordyn; and one 3-year-old granddaughter, Paisley.

To read more on the position she currently serves in our county,  read next weeks paper!

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