Tracey Williams is proof that childhood dreams can come true.
She grew up to become the director of Women’s Services at Cox Branson, and she remembers the exact moment at 8 years old when she knew she wanted to become a nurse. Her father was in a bad car wreck, and she rushed to the hospital with her mom and baby brother to see him.
“At the time, no one under 14 was allowed in the intensive care unit,” Tracey recalls. “But, the staff knew this might be our last chance to see him, so they let us in. I can remember the smell of the hospital, the scratch on my dad’s left hand that I kissed, and how all the nurses helped my mom with us.
“He was in the hospital several months, so the nurses got to know us well. I remember admiring their white nursing hats and the compassionate way they cared for my family. I knew that’s what I wanted to do.”
And, so she did. Tracey started at Cox Branson as a graduate nurse 23 years ago, progressing to become a director and eventually returning to school and graduating as a family nurse practitioner. “I graduated with my master’s degree the same year my oldest child graduated high school,” she says. “My family and our leadership team at the hospital have been so supportive of my career.”
Tracey is a staunch advocate for women’s health and was integral in growing Cox Branson’s Women’s Center into what it is today -- a premier place for women to access a wide array of services, from wellness exams to diagnostic imaging.
“The Women’s Center is a dream come true,” she says. “It was my goal to offer a single location for women to go for preventive services. It’s a one-stop-shop for women to get the care they need in one appointment in a friendly, spa-like environment.”
Tracey’s undeniable drive and passion for her patients was in the spotlight at the Springfield News-Leader’s Salute to Nurses, where CoxHealth named Tracey its Nurse of the Year. It is an honor she humbly shares with her team.
“I have the best staff and a hospital leadership team that supports our ideas. I am so proud to say I’ve worked here 23 years, but there’s more work to do, including expanding our service line at the Women’s Center and doing more outreach in our community,” she says. “Health care is always changing – it forces us to think differently and be innovative. I love a good challenge!”