After Losing Newborn Son, 'Great 100' Nurse Finds Calling in NICU at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas

DALLAS — Shari Nathanson understands the heartbreak that parents endure while their babies are being cared for in neonatal intensive care.

As a nurse in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, Nathanson, B.S.N., RNC-NIC, draws on her personal experiences to help families dealing with these difficult situations heal.

Shari Nathanson, B.S.N., RNC-NIC
Shari Nathanson, B.S.N., RNC-NIC
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“Shari is truly compassionate about her patients and their families,” said Christine Brooks, M.S., RNC-NIC, nurse manager at Texas Health Dallas NICU. “She has been where they are, and she can relate in ways that others can’t.”

This month, Nathanson will be honored among nine of her peers from Texas Health Dallas as a "Great 100" Nurse — an honor that recognizes nurses for their nursing excellence in science and art.

Nathanson, who was one of Texas Health Dallas’ first nurse interns nearly 30 years ago, welcomed her first child, Mathew, on February 28, 1987. After having a healthy pregnancy, she and her husband never suspected something might be wrong. Shortly after his birth, Mathew was rushed to the NICU. He was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a rare condition in which the left ventricle of the heart is severely underdeveloped and prevents oxygenated blood from reaching the rest of the organs in the body. He died within 48 hours.

Nathanson and her husband had been eager to start a family of their own. They were devastated.

“The cardiologist told us his condition was incompatible with life,” she said. “It’s not being able to do anything that was most heartbreaking.”

One and a half years later, Nathanson applied for a job as a nurse at Texas Health Dallas.

“They told me there was a position in the NICU, and I didn’t think I could do it,” she said. “The nurse manager convinced me to give it a chance, and if I was still uncomfortable, she would put in a transfer for me.”

Just a few weeks into her new role as a NICU nurse, Nathanson had passed on three transfer opportunities.

“The relationship I built with the nurses in the short amount of time I was there was incredible,” she said. “Everyone was supportive of each other. I knew that I had found a home.”

Twenty-three years later, Nathanson remains an invaluable member of the NICU team at Texas Health Dallas. Highly respected rated by her peers and known as a strong patient advocate, Nathanson was recommended by neonatologists on the medical staff to join the NICU transport team — a group of nurses responsible for traveling to other hospitals to help care for critically ill babies while they are being transported to Texas Health Dallas.

An active member of the North Texas and National Associations of Neonatal Nurses, and the Academy of Neonatal Nurses, Nathanson is also a preceptor and a neonatal resuscitation program instructor who is making a significant contribution to reduce infant morbidity and mortality.

“I am so proud of Shari,” said Cole Edmonson, D.N.P., R.N., FACHE, NEA-BC, chief nursing officer and vice president of patient care services at Texas Health Dallas. “Her passion for learning and mentoring others shines through; she is a natural leader and brings so much of herself and her own experience into her work.

“What I enjoy most about my profession is taking care of the most critically ill infants and continually learning how technology can help us care for patients,” she said. “I also love teaching new nurses and helping them progress in their professions.”

Six months after Mathew’s passing, Shari found out she was pregnant again. She and her husband, Paul, now have three daughters.

About Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas
Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas is an 866-bed acute care hospital and recognized clinical program leader, having provided compassionate care to the residents of Dallas and surrounding communities since 1966. U.S. News and World Report has ranked Texas Health Dallas among the nation’s best hospitals in digestive disorders, orthopedics, and neurology and neurosurgery. An affiliate of the faith-based, nonprofit Texas Health Resources system, Texas Health Dallas has approximately 4,000 employees and an active medical staff of more than 1,000 physicians. For more information, call 1-877-THR-WELL, or visit