Sally Bixby, RN, MSN, president of the Tournament of Roses

Profiles in Nursing

Sally Bixby, RN, MSN, president of the Tournament of Roses

Nurses on parade

By Elizabeth Hanink, RN, BSN, PHN
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The year 2012 has come up roses for Sally Bixby, RN, MSN. As the president of the Tournament of Roses Association, she has spent the year traveling, organizing and publicizing all the activities surrounding the annual parade and football game that are so much a part of America’s New Year’s Day. Her term will culminate with the parade, which this year will feature the first-ever float devoted to nursing, dubbed “A Healing Place.”

The float, which will be a singular salute to the service and talent that nurses bring to their communities, was not even Bixby’s idea. Instead, it was the brainchild of several of her colleagues in the Association of Operating Room Nurses’ Los Angeles chapter, of which Bixby is a member and treasurer. When Bixby’s AORN colleagues found out that she would be the next president of the Tournament of Roses Association after many years on the executive board, those nurses — with no special knowledge of what they were getting involved with — launched a campaign to make the nursing float a reality.

The AORN leaders founded a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization called Bare Roots Incorporated, with a fundraising branch called Flowers 4 the Float. (Roses, after all, start out as bare roots that put forth green leaves and eventually beautiful flowers.) The endeavor has been a true grassroots nursing project that has raised over $300,000 to bring the dream to life.

Sally Bixby, President of Tournament of Roses

Bixby is the first nurse and only the second woman to serve as president of the Tournament of Roses Association. Her year as president has not been a small undertaking. One of the duties of the presidency is traveling to visit and vet each and every band that will appear in the parade — a fitting requirement for a celebration whose theme this year is “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”

When you look at Bixby’s career, you can see how nursing has prepared her for this Herculean task. In her previous role as director of surgical services at City of Hope National Medical Center and Beckman Research Institute, she managed a multimillion-dollar budget, honed supervisory and communication skills that would impress the State Department and oversaw a staff of hundreds. The responsibilities involved in running the Tournament of Roses and providing leadership for the 124th Rose Parade and 99th Rose Bowl Game on Jan. 1, 2013, while challenging, pale in comparison. As more than one nurse has pointed out, if you are successful as a nurse manager, you can succeed at anything.

Bixby graduated from Pasadena City College and earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in healthcare administration from California State University, Los Angeles. She began her career in healthcare as a nursing aide, but almost immediately found her niche in surgical nursing.

After 38 years, Bixby has earned her retirement, but she still wants to give back. She says that after she has had several weeks of full eight-hour sleep cycles, she would like to return to the work world, perhaps as a consultant or educator. Most impressively, after all this time, Bixby still says, “Nursing is a great profession.” 

Elizabeth Hanink, RN, BSN, PHN, is a Working Nurse staff writer with extensive hospital and community-based nursing experience.

This article is from workingnurse.com.

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