Lifelong Friends: The Story of Two Nurses

Community, Our People


Juanita C., BSN, MS, and Bernice H., BSN, MS, posing together at Annuals last fall.

Juanita C., BSN, MS, and Bernice H., BSN, MS, scheduled their interviews at Independence Plus on the same day and the same time. After viewing their resumes and seeing almost identical career tracks, we were intrigued.

Juanita and Bernice call themselves “two peas in a pod.” They aren’t sisters, but they might as well be. They have spent—and continue to spend—their entire nursing career together. Now retired, these lifelong friends work part-time with Independence Plus’ pediatric patients.

“Our goal was to retire, but never to be sedentary,” Juanita begins.

Two Peas in a Pod

Bernice and Juanita’s story starts at Cook County Hospital in the late 1970s. Juanita had recently joined the neurosurgery unit and was being trained by Bernice. They instantly became friends and Juanita encouraged Bernice as she was working on her Associate’s degree in Nursing at Malcolm X College.

They have worked together ever since.

A few years later, Bernice and Juanita started looking for new jobs. They eventually landed at LaRabida Hospital. Hired as a package deal, they spent the next thirty years—from 1982 to 2012—working together in the hospital’s Emergency Department.

There, they cared for thousands of children and perfected their craft—together.

Higher (and Even Higher) Education

Soon after Bernice and Juanita started working for LaRabida, the hospital began encouraging their nursing staff to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing.

“So, we took a class together,” Bernice remembers.

They took a break for a few years and eventually enrolled at Governor’s State University, where they both graduated with their BSNs in 1987.

“We encouraged each other.” Juanita continues, “It’s hard to go back to school.”

They even completed their final project for their BSN together. Bernice and Juanita set up an IV Certification Program at the hospital, which included various policies, protocols, and research.

“Juanita is great with numbers,” Bernice recalls.

They enjoyed working together on their BSNs so much, Bernice and Juanita decided to pursue a Master’s degree. They graduated with their Master of Science from Purdue University in 1991.

“Once we started, we just kept going until we finished,” says Bernice.

Celebrating Retirement

After 30 successful years at LaRabida, these best friends decided it was time for retirement.

They retired the summer of 2012—within one month of each other!

After spending the first few months relaxing and enjoying their newfound freedom, Bernice and Juanita decided to look for part-time nursing jobs—and found Independence Plus online!

“I always wanted to be a nurse,” Juanita explains. “When it’s in your makeup, I don’t think you’ll ever burnout.”

Today, Bernice and Juanita each work a few shifts each week with our pediatric patient population, and the rest of their time is spent volunteering at their (one in the same!) church.


So, we are wondering, have any of you also maintained a lifelong bond with someone from work? If so, tell us here!


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