Earlier this year, Karyl Banks, supervisor of respiratory care, was assigned a responsibility requiring care, humility and strength — all characteristics that Karyl uniquely encompasses.
“We had a patient who was very sick,” she recalls. “After a while, the family came to the conclusion that it was best to take her off the ventilator and understood the moment we took her off she would pass. Her children couldn’t bear being in the same room and I was the therapist to take her off. I was not going to let her pass alone.”
Understanding how difficult it would be for the family to be present during this moment, Karyl stayed with the patient and talked her through it. “I held her hands and prayed with her,” Karyl says, helping the patient pass peacefully.
Raised by a father who was a police officer and a mother who worked as a licensed practical nurse, Karyl wanted to follow her parents’ footsteps. And, although she went to school for auto mechanics, her desire to work with people reemerged soon after her brother had a massive stroke. “He was 35-years-old at the time and I remember he was laying in the hospital and was hooked to a ventilator,” she recalls. “I remember thinking I didn’t know if the doctors were doing what they were supposed to be doing. It was after that event I decided to go into the medical field because if anyone in my family ever got that sick, I wanted to know what was happening and be able to help.”
Karyl started as a nurse assistant in shock trauma. She noticed that every time a patient would come in a room for treatment, nurses had to leave the room while doctors and their team stayed in. “When that happened, I also wanted to stay in the room with everyone else to save lives,” she says. “So I went to school, got all my prerequisites and became a respiratory therapist.”
Nearly seven years ago, Karyl was working at Howard University Hospital as a new respiratory therapist. Her heart was set on traveling and, after some thought, she resigned her position to join a medical staffing agency that would help her fulfill her dream to work at different hospitals throughout the country. Anne Arundel Medical Center (AAMC) happened to be her first assignment, and it didn’t take long for Karyl to fall in love – literally. “Once I got to AAMC I refused to leave this place,” she says. “It was a beautiful area, beautiful hospital and everyone was so friendly. I wanted to stay here.”
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When her three-month stint ended, Karyl was offered at full-time position at AAMC. Without hesitation, she said yes.
Karyl, who is a mother of four and a proud grandmother of six, says her biggest reward is helping others and making them feel good. She splits her weekly 40 hours into working in the office, where she can manage her duties as a team supervisor and on the floor working one on one with patients. “I enjoy helping people and putting a smile on someone’s face every day, whether it’s a patient or a colleague,” she says. “When it comes to patients, I’m always going to be ready to help and make them feel better. When it comes to colleagues, I work to help my team feel like they come to work because they miss each other, not because they have to do something.”
PRO TIP: “Any job you have should be a part of you and not just a job. If you like what you’re doing, you’re going to be more effective and happier.”