Tampa General nurse uses life of caring, learning to help patients

Last week was Nurses Week at Tampa General Hospital so we decided to highlight a woman who has served patients for more than 40 years. Her story of compassion is what's right with Tampa Bay.

"I worked at Tampa General for 48 years," explained TGH nurse Brenda Junco. "I don't think my car knows anywhere else to go."

Junco was born and raised in Ybor City and always dreamed of being a caregiver.

"I knew at age three. I wanted to be a nurse. I always knew I wanted to be a nurse," she said.

After graduating from the Gordon School of Nursing at the University of Tampa, she got a job as a dialysis nurse in 1972.

"I was here back in 1976 when we did the first kidney transplant," she remembered.

Junco spent 26 years working in the dialysis unit before becoming a nurse practitioner in the psychiatric unit.

"Nursing was more generalize back then but now we have become more specialized," she said.

Junco got a master's degree in psychiatric mental health and in nursing education from the University of South Florida. 

"I even went back and got my Ph.D., so it's like I'm constantly learning," she said.

Due to COVID-19, Junco says nurses and patients have a special bond.

"Nurses have become more that family person, that individual person that is helping that patient heal, help that patient make it through that tough time," she said.

Even when times are tough, she couldn't imagine being anywhere else.

"I would have a hard time retiring. I love this staff. I love the patients. I love Tampa General. It's hard for me to give this up."