This week’s for nurses

Ann Bell jokes around with a husband and wife as the female half is hooked up to an IV line that’s bringing chemotherapy drugs to her body.

Ann Bell

Ann Bell

One big family

at Whidbey General

Ann Bell jokes around with a husband and wife as the female half is hooked up to an IV line that’s bringing chemotherapy drugs to her body.

It’s serious medicine at the oncology care clinic of Whidbey General Hospital, but the registered nurse helps to keep the atmosphere positive and hopeful. She works the right mix of professionalism and sauciness to help create a place that has become, in her words, “one big family.”

“It’s unique in oncology,” she said. “You spend more time with the patients. You have a really long, ongoing relationship with them.”

Bell is a prime example of the professionals who are honored each year on National Nurses Day, which is always celebrated on May 6 and opens National Nurses Week. National Nurses Week begins each year on May 6 and ends on May 12, the birth date of Florence Nightingale.

At Whidbey General, the day is celebrated with a vendor’s fair, a lecture and a generalized tip of the hat to nurses, who apparently no longer have to wear the white hats.

With a nation facing a critical nurse shortage, the special day has more meaning than ever. Jan Maham, the critical care unit manager and a registered nurse, said she hopes the holiday will shed light on the important profession and encourage more people to sign up.

“It’s a very rewarding career,” Maham said. “It’s hard work, but satisfying.”

Whidbey General is a good place to be a nurse, she said. Unlike many other hospitals, all the nurses at the community hospital in Coupeville are licensed, which means there are no nurses aides. Maham said officials wanted a nursing staff of all RNs and LPNs to maintain a high level of care, but also so that the nurses can move around to different areas of the hospital.

“There’s a lot of cross training,” she said. “It’s a real collaborative effort.”

This flexibility, in fact, is one of the lures of a nursing career. Maham points out that nursing is a wide open field, with opportunities for involvement in multiple in-patient and out-patient services. There’s surgery, cardiac health, home health, diagnostic imaging, birthing and many other departments.

For those who like adrenaline, the emergency room is an interesting and often exciting place to work.

“We have to be able to care for newborn babies with coughs to elderly people who are in the process of dying and everyone in between,” said Bonnie Maley, assistant nurse manager in the ER.

Maley said Whidbey General’s ER serves from 50 to 70 people a day. It’s been especially busy, she said, since the Navy hospital in Oak Harbor limited its services.

In addition, Maham emphasized that nurses at Whidbey General have plenty of opportunity to grow professionally. Many LPNs go on to become RNs. They can receive different levels of advanced training in specialized areas. Some nurses have an alphabet soup of degrees behind their names.

Of course, nursing isn’t for everyone. It’s a challenging career that can be physically demanding. Maham estimates that she walks more than a mile through the hospital’s long halls each day. Beyond that, the job demands compassion, good communication skills and critical thinking.

The rewards, Maham said, are especially great at a community hospital like Whidbey General, where the atmosphere is very different than a large, big-city facility.

“We feel especially close to the patients,” Maham said. “We’re taking all these different journeys together with them.”

More in News

Chris Stack and Samantha Soule film a scene of their movie, "Midday Black, Midnight Blue," on the Coupeville wharf June 14. (Photo by Karina Andrew/Whidbey News-Times)
Indie crew films movie on Whidbey

Island becomes backup after Michigan locale falls through.

More federal relief money than expected headed to Whidbey

Whidbey Island will soon receive millions of dollars of American Rescue Plan funding.

Oak Harbor Public School photo - group
Oak Harbor top 10 reveal their plans post-high school

Oak Harbor High School seniors graduate on June 19.

Clockwise from top left: Drake Borden, Mollie Bailey, Marissa Malinowski, Owen Barenburg, Catherine Lhamon. (Photos provided)
Coupeville High School recognizes top five graduates

Coupeville High School’s top five seniors didn’t let a difficult pandemic year hold them back.

Photo courtesy America's Boating Club of Deception Pass
Inquiring minds hoping to nab that crab will have two opportunities to learn the tips and tricks of the trade this month before the recreational season opens July 1.
Boating Club holding free seminar on crabbing

Crabbers have two chances this month to learn tips and tricks before the season opens on July 1.

WhidbeyHealth lists vacant property for $727,500

WhidbeyHealth has listed a 4.56 acre vacant property for sale on the real estate website Zillow.

Annie Philp, center, leads student counter-protesters. (Photo by Karina Andrew/Whidbey News-Times)
Students counter a protest against social justice education

Hundreds of demonstrators lined the street in front of South Whidbey High School Friday afternoon.

A banner celebrating the South Whidbey High School class of 2021 was vandalized, and the Black Lives Matter banner next to it was stolen. (Photo provided by Josephine Moccia)
Black Lives Matter sign stolen from in front of school

A banner celebrating 2021 graduates was also left vandalized.

Port gets $100K grant to improve broadband

Island County commissioners voted last week to approve Port of Coupeville’s application for funding.

Most Read