New CRMC neonatal NP returns home

Colleen Flanders.

 COOKEVILLE –  has more than 24 years experience caring for some of the sickest babies in the state. From those in need of simple stabilization to complex surgeries and everything in between.

Now, she’s helping care for infants specifically in the Upper Cumberland region, having recently joined the staff at Cookeville Regional Medical Center (CRMC).

Flanders, a neonatal nurse practitioner, just joined the hospital in recent months, but she’s already quite familiar with her new surroundings – as she should be, having been raised in and graduated from both high school and college in the Cookeville town.

Her position is a new one at CRMC – necessitated mostly by an increase in patient volumes, she said. Flanders assists hospitalists Dr. Apryl Hall and Dr. Jack W. Carey, attending deliveries and providing care for both well and sick infants alike.

“We provide care to the babies at whatever level they need,” Flanders said.

Flanders, born in Dayton, Ohio, but raised in Cookeville from the age of 10, initially took an interest in nursing in high school, directed by a guidance counselor to write a paper on the topic. She attended Tennessee Tech University and received her bachelor’s in nursing. During a clinical rotation at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, she was exposed to a particularly interesting case in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). That set her firm on her path.

She took a job as a staff nurse at Vanderbilt in Nashville upon graduation from Tech, and in 1997, earned a master’s degree in nursing. Her years in the NICU also included time with Vanderbilt’s Angel Transport team, which is responsible for transporting ill and premature infants in a more than two-dozen county area, including Putnam, “taking care of some of the sickest babies in the region,” she said.

“I came to Cookeville to pick up sick babies from time to time, and I knew they did a great job stabilizing those babies, but I also knew they were getting busier and busier all the time,” Flanders said.

So when her oldest daughter, who is attending Tennessee Tech, came across a job posting on CRMC’s website for neonatal nurse practitioner during her own part-time job search, it seemed like a calling. Flanders interviewed, was hired, and started in April.

“This is home. My parents still live here, my brothers live here, and I have friends who still live here. It was a comfortable situation,” Flanders said. “I am glad to be at CRMC and to work alongside Dr. Hall and Dr. Carey to continue providing a higher level of care, to help always ensure we do the best we can for these children and babies.”

Outside of work, Flanders says she enjoys spending time with her family, reading, going to the movies, going to the lake and exercising. It’s good to be back home, she added.

“(Since) I lived here 24 years ago…it’s grown tremendously. The hospital has added so many fabulous services,” she said. “I’m glad to lend my expertise to the babies here.”


Colleen Flanders is a neonatal nurse practitioner at

Cookeville Regional Medical Center.

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Liz Engel is the editor of the Upper Cumberland Business Journal. She can be reached at

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