“When something inspires you from within, that’s why you go into nursing. It’s a calling.”
Maryam Chambler has experienced that inspiration throughout her life, making her the perfect choice as our March Nurse of the Month. Maryam has been a licensed practical nurse for 40 years, working in various roles from Assistant Director of Nursing to Head Charge Nurse to Nurse Unit Manager. She also taught medical assistants and medical nurse managers, with many of her students went on to become doctors or nurses. Maryam has worked with both geriatric and special needs populations as a nurse medical services coordinator. Currently exploring opportunities to work with adults with disabilities, she points to a moment in early childhood that set her on the nursing path.
“Nursing was always in my family; my aunties on my father’s side were nurses, and when I saw them in their uniforms and caps, I admired them so much and wanted to be like them. My mom watched a TV program called ‘The Nurse,’ and I would watch with her. One day when I was about six years old, I remember seeing the TV nurse in her cap and uniform, and saying to myself, ‘that’s what I’m going to be when I grow up.’ I have never wavered from, or regretted, that decision.”
Passionate About Learning and Teaching
Maryam still remembers how thrilled she was to receive her CNA pin and certificate – and a pair of nursing scissors – then went on to study under “demanding and excellent” instructors to obtain her degree. She is a life-long learner, going beyond advanced nursing studies to obtain two bachelor’s degrees, one in Humanities and Human Sciences with a pre-law track and one in Women’s Studies. However, nursing has remained her passion, and Maryam urges others who have that devotion to follow it through. She has also cautioned her students to go into nursing for the right reasons.
“I would tell them not to go into the profession if it was for the money. If you want a career in nursing, you need to be sure it’s what you love, that you enter it with the right attitude and mindset, as it’s very demanding. You have to love working with people, and have empathy. If you don’t like what you’re doing, you’re going to be miserable…and not a very good nurse.”
Going the Extra Mile Helps Patients – and Feels Good
Throughout her many years of nursing, Maryam acknowledges that she’s experienced countless moments that have made it a rewarding career.
“When I was doing nurse management on weekends in a geriatric facility, one of the residents would cry all night long. I found out that she spoke only Russian, so I went to the bookstore and bought an English-Russian translation book. I learned how to say basic phrases in Russian, like ‘Good morning, good night, are you in pain or hungry? When I went in the next weekend, and said ‘Good morning,’ to her in Russian, she looked into my eyes, reached out and hugged me, and never cried again. The other nurses followed suit, learning Russian phrases in the break room. We also helped each other learn Spanish phrases if an interpreter wasn’t available. I may have worked long hours and been tired at the end of my shifts, but I always walked away with the sense that it was all worth it.”
Technology Makes Everything Easier
Maryam is excited about the ways in which new technologies are transforming the fields of medicine in general, and nursing in particular.
“Information technology has simplified so much of our work, and in some cases even corrects our errors. It’s wonderful to be able to open our computers wherever we are, to file reports, look at a status, or even self-educate. As technology advances, and new treatments and medicines are being developed, we will become even better nurses.”
Nurses Can Change Negative Perceptions
Maryam admits that there are misconceptions about nurses, particularly among their patients or residents who may have had one bad experience. She tells people that there are many good and dedicated nurses, so they shouldn’t generalize about people in the profession. To help build a more positive image of nurses, Maryam has advice for her fellow practitioners, especially those just starting out.
“When nurses go to work, they must leave their personal problems at home. Then when they leave work, they must leave their work issues behind. Nurses should always be able to sleep at night knowing they did the best they could, both on the job and in their home life. It’s important to achieve that balance.”
Leaving a Legacy
Maryam felt “humbled, surprised and happy” when she learned of her selection as PointClickCare’s spotlight nurse for March. Looking ahead to the next ten years, Maryam expects to be busier than ever.
“I see myself writing and teaching my profession. I want to pass on the torch by giving lectures about the importance of ethics, confidentiality, dedication and attention to detail, because we have the lives of others in our hands. My hope is to encourage young people interested in the profession, because they are often intimidated by it. I’m even thinking of writing a book, possibly a textbook that could be used in nursing schools – that’s one of my dreams.”