Nurses are sometimes called the heart of health care. Not only does their work touch the lives of many, but their stories are an abiding source of inspiration.

Atria communities are supported by more than 300 talented and dedicated nurses nationwide, and are also home to many retired nurses, often pioneers in their field.

Ann Sullivan is a resident at Atria New City and a retired head nurse manager at Nyack Hospital. In a career that spanned decades, she oversaw up to 12 operating rooms in an ever-evolving hospital environment.

“Endoscopy and the use of microscopic instruments, that’s what changed the most over my time,” Ann says. “But the fundamentals of what makes a good nurse, those stay the same.”

Raised in Fulton, New York – a small town 12 miles from Lake Ontario – Ann was an honors student who excelled in the classroom, but she was uncertain about a career path. For women – especially at the time – opportunities in the workforce were limited.

Following the advice of the family pastor, Ann pursued a nursing degree at Lenox Hill in New York City. The first six months were difficult, and Ann had doubts about whether nursing was the right fit.

“I wasn’t crazy about it at first,” she says. “I even talked to my mother about coming home – but we decided to give it more time before making a decision. And I’m glad I did.”

Once Ann discovered the operating room during an elective course, that’s when she truly felt at home.

“That was it for me. Once I began that class, I was an operating room nurse from then on,” she says. “I’m someone who enjoys learning how everything works – some people may find it strange – but the operating room was endlessly fascinating to me.”

Ann paused her career to raise four children before resuming work at Nyack Hospital. Feeling back at home in the operating room, Ann flourished and was promoted to head nurse manager.

She worked closely with doctors to match the scheduled procedures with experienced nurses and was the attendant nurse for emergency operations, which could be performed at any hour.

“There were times when it was stressful,” Ann says. “But it was always interesting and always rewarding. I met my husband and so many friends during nursing school. I really grew to love it.”

Today, Ann calls Atria New City home, and she loves the friendships and social scene at the community. The staff at Atria are not only inspired by her life story but by how active and vibrant she is.

“For where I am in life now, it’s a great fit here,” Ann says.

As history shows, once Ann finds the right fit, she thrives.