May 22, 2024

Celebrating Sheri Bennett’s Nursing Practice and Retirement

Join us in congratulating Sheri Bennett on nearly three decades of practice as a Nurse Practitioner (45 years as a nurse!) and wishing her well in her upcoming retirement! Sheri has worn many hats during her career, including working alongside doctors in clinic, assisting in surgeries and being a leader in launching Central Indiana Orthopedics spine clinic. Sheri will officially retire May 30.

Growing up in Pendleton, Indiana, Sheri says she always wanted to be a nurse and no other careers were ever considered. As a senior in high school in 1974, Sheri served as an EMT on Pendleton’s first volunteer ambulance. Later, she attended Indiana University and graduated from IU School of Nursing in 1979.

After graduation, Sheri worked in several areas of healthcare. Her first job out of nursing school was at Methodist Hospital working renal dialysis and transplant. After one year, she started working at St. Johns Hospital (today known as Ascension St. Vincent Anderson) in labor and delivery, the emergency room and assisting in surgeries. “That’s when I met Dr. David Graybill,” Sheri said. “He needed a nurse in his office, so I thought I would work with him for a short time and then go back to the hospital, but I absolutely fell in love with orthopedics.”

At the time, Dr. Graybill (who retired from CIO in 2023) was in solo practice and treated a range of orthopedic issues, from general orthopedics to joints, fractures and spine. “If someone walked through the door with an orthopedic issue, we took care of it,” Sheri said. “I was able to gain experience in so many different areas.”

While Sheri thought the job would last only a few months, it ended up being just the beginning of her career. While working alongside Dr. Graybill, he inspired Sheri to become a Nurse Practitioner. She attended Ball State University and graduated with a Masters in Nursing in 1996. Just a few years later, Dr. Graybill merged his practice with Central Indiana Orthopedics (CIO), allowing for the opportunity to become more specialized within a larger group.

After joining CIO, Sheri was asked to start a spine clinic and perform the initial evaluation for spine patients. “I was concerned being so specialized wouldn’t allow me to see a variety of orthopedic issues, but it’s been so rewarding,” Sheri said. “I’ve enjoyed listening to patients and helping them manage their health and orthopedic problems. It’s been a privilege to be entrusted and allowed into a person’s life during very emotional, painful and stressful times.”

A lot of the knowledge Sheri gained came not only from patient experiences but also the collaboration with physicians throughout her career. “The doctors have always been so supportive anytime my patients, or I, have needed anything,” Sheri said. “If I was unable to correct the patient’s area of concern myself, I had a team of doctors in the same building to rely on.”

Outside of seeing patients, Sheri has been involved in various contributions to her local community, including helping start the soccer program in Pendleton many years ago. “It’s been fun watching the growth of soccer from nonexistent to the program it is today,” Sheri said. “If everyone does a little bit, it’s amazing how big and successful something can be.” Sheri has also enjoyed volunteering with Friends of Falls Park, an organization dedicated to helping preserve, improve and promote Pendleton’s historic Falls Park.

As far as how Sheri plans to enjoy her much-deserved retirement, she doesn’t plan to just sit around. “My family and friends say that I don’t sit well, and many people are betting that I will return to work,” Sheri said. “I’m lucky that I have a fabulous husband who is eager to travel and take on most projects that I dream up. I will gladly join him in retirement and this new journey in our lives.”

We asked Sheri what three words describe the experiences throughout her career. “BEST CAREER EVER,” Sheri said. “As I reflect on my nursing career that started in 1979, I’m not sure how I can properly thank all the people who have been on this journey with me, but would like to recognize –

My family. They understood that I was dedicated and I would be home when the work was done.

My mother, who will always be in my thoughts. As a strong woman, she instilled in me the fortitude to work through anything.

Michelle Etchison, a very dear friend, colleague and fellow nurse. We became friends more than 30 years ago while working in surgery together. And while our professional paths have taken different courses, we have always supported each other through our career changes.

Dr. David Graybill, a great mentor and teacher. Without him, I would not have had 25 years in orthopedics or been inspired to become a nurse practitioner.

The experienced nurses, staff and managers who took me under their wing at age 22 – a novice nurse – and taught me how to treat patients as individuals, with kindness and compassion.

The person who held me up when I was sobbing uncontrollably after my first patient died.

The doctors and nurses who worked alongside me through the good, bad, sad, funny and unbelievable.

The support staff who were behind the scenes to provide the best experience for the patient.”

“Nursing has been such a fulfilling part of my life, and I’m not sure I want to stop,” Sheri said.  “I wish everyone could feel as satisfied about a career as I do and I can’t say thank you enough to all involved.”

Wishing you the best in your retirement, Sheri! Cheers to a wonderful journey!