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Former UAB nurse Carolyn Hood recalls 30-year career

Carolyn Hood became one of the first African American nurses on a formerly all-white staff in Birmingham. (contributed)
By Joseph Allen
Alabama Newscenter

Carolyn Hood wasn’t so much interested in making history as she was taking care of people. That’s why the Ensley native became a nurse.

“Ever since I was a small child I’ve always wanted to be a nurse, because I wanted to help people,” she said.

Hood trained with an all-black class of nursing students and took a job at UAB’s University Hospital in 1965. In doing so, she became part of Birmingham’s history as one of the early African American nurses to work on a formerly all-white staff.

“You know, she came to UAB right after the Civil Rights Act of 1965, so I can just only imagine the transition she and her colleagues had to go through in integrating our facilities around the country,’’ said her son Anthony Hood.

She said she didn’t really face challenges making the transition from taking care of only black patients during her training to taking care of white and black patients.

“I was taking care of the patients and what I was doing taking care of the patients was something that I had learned to do in my studies. So the challenges were next to none,” she said.

Over a 30-year career at UAB, Carolyn Hood earned UAB’s nursing award “three or four times. It was because I was good at what I did. UAB was a good place to work. They were good to me.”

UAB also has been good to her son, who has followed her working for the university.

“That means a lot to me, a real sense of pride for me to feel like I’m carrying on that legacy, albeit in a different part of the institution. But I am kind of fulfilling almost like a family legacy,” said Anthony Hood, who is UAB’s director of Civic Innovation in the Office of the President.

“Having my son come behind me at UAB, I’m honored,” she said. “I’m truly blessed.

“I love nursing,” she said. “If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t hesitate one bit because I love helping people.”