Naida Rutherford has explored many avenues as a nurse since receiving her BSN and MSN from UofSC Nursing. She values the importance of exploring one's career and passions and working towards goals. "I believe in the power of being prepared. Studying, focusing, and allowing yourself to explore your limits and focusing on your strengths. I don't believe in focusing on weaknesses," says Rutherford.
Where and in what role do you currently practice?
For the last two years, I have provided medical care to the Lexington County Detention Center inmates. I also worked in the medical aesthetics industry performing liposuction procedures in Chapin, South Carolina. I had experience with certain aspects of the industry and decided to try something new. I love to stretch my brain and try new things. My background has been diverse in nursing: I've worked in emergency, infectious disease, primary care, wounds, and ostomies.
Why did you decide to run for Coroner of Richland County?
I decided to run for Richland County Coroner about eight years ago when I noticed that the law changed. I have always been interested in investigative work but did not want to be a police officer. I wanted to fuse my love of healthcare, community, and advocacy into one role. With the office of Coroner, I will be able to do just that and hopefully open up forensic nursing in our state.
What aspects of Coroner appeal to you and how will your nursing practice skills play a role?
Nurses are detectives. I acknowledge that skill set because it is what we do every time we walk into a room with a patient. We are continually asking questions, assessing the environment, assessing the person, and the people around them to see if the story makes sense. We are constantly using those assessments for problem-solving. Being a nurse for the last 14 years has allowed me to hone those skills, learn to ask the right questions at the right time, and decipher the information to solve the issue. As Coroner, I will use all of my nursing assessment skills to investigate a death thoroughly. I will look at underlying medical conditions, environment, and external forces. I will be helping law enforcement, advocating differently but still serving my community.
As the first African American and first woman Coroner of Richland County, how do you plan to utilize this platform for African Americans and women?
Representation matters; seeing someone that looks like you, talks like you, and shares your life experience is important. The fact that we are still having these types of firsts in 2020 is astounding and disappointing to some degree. This role shouldn’t be about gender or race. But it’s not lost on me that this is historic in so many ways. I hope young people see me as an inspiration for planning, preparedness, and work ethic. This isn’t an overnight success story; it’s over a decade in the making. I worked hard, sought opportunities, and put myself in a position to run for office. And I will continue to work hard to show that there are talented black professionals worthy of leadership, not because they are black but because they are educated and capable. I hope people see that women are qualified to hold serious positions and maintain their style and femininity.