Sheila Williams, RN

Head Nurse,
Start Date: 1986

A NATIVE WASHINGTONIAN COMES FULL CIRCLE

I've wanted to be a nurse since I was 8 years old. At the time, my mother was sick a lot and in and out of hospitals. I was so impressed by the nurses that I said "I want to do that. I want to be able to care for my mother." I never once changed my mind.

After attending the University of North Carolina, I worked as a graduate nurse at George Washington Hospital for three years before moving on to the National Rehabilitation Hospital while it was still under construction. During our first few weeks on the job, as we were preparing to open the facility, we all had to wear hard hats!

NRH was great, but I always wanted to work at the "big" hospital across the street - MedStar Washington Hospital Center. In 1986, my dream came true when I was hired as a staff nurse. Here I was, working for same institution where I had been born! Twenty years later, I'm still here. Thanks to great mentors and supervisors, including the legendary Nel van Beusekom, I worked my way up through the ranks and am now a Head Nurse.

To top it off, my mother is once again a MedStar Washington Hospital Center patient, now through its innovative Medical House Call Program instead of the OB service. We truly have come full circle!

"ALL OTHER DUTIES AS ASSIGNED"

Shortly after I was promoted to Head Nurse, I had what will probably remain the wildest experience of my career. A spinal cord injury patient was admitted to my unit with a urinary tract infection - a not uncommon occurrence for such patients. But accompanying him was Buddy - his working companion dog!

So we went to work and made Buddy a little bed out of sheets next to his "person." And I made up a schedule of "doggy intervention duties" for the nursing managers to follow - staff nurses were too busy caring for human patients - indicating who was responsible for walking, feeding and providing fresh water for Buddy during each shift.

For the next 10 days or so, it was really a zoo! Donated dog food came from everywhere, and little toys would just miraculously show up. He became everyone's pet.

In effect, we were caring for two patients that time. If that's not putting "Patient First" into practice, I don't know what is!

HAIL TO THE REDSKINS!

One of the most enjoyable things I have done as a nurse occurred when the Hospital Center was the "official hospital provider to the Washington Redskins." As such, we staffed all of the first-aid stations for every home game at Fed Ex Field. Well, I'm a fierce fan, so I volunteered whenever I could, even though we couldn't see the game from the stations.

Most of the time, we only dealt with run-of-the-mill incidents, but every now and then, someone would suffer a heart attack, stroke or a bad fall, so it was vital that we were there.

But the best part was that we walked into the stadium through the same gate and ramp as the players! I felt like royalty! One time a fan from the parking lot, shouted out "Are you the cheerleaders?" (Yeah, I wish!) Anyway, it was a lot of fun and made me really proud to be part of the MedStar Washington Hospital Center.