Marilyn ‘Nia’ Wright has been running around hospital floors attending to patients since she started her career as a nurse in the ‘70s. Wherever there was a need — whether it was her patient or not — she was on the scene ready to help. Over the years, Marilyn earned the nickname Nia, an abbreviation for ‘nurse in action.’
“I always wanted to be a nurse,” Nia says, adding that when she was younger, she liked play-acting as a nurse and putting bandages on her dolls. “I never saw myself doing anything else than nursing, except for maybe becoming an actor, singer or dancer. But I still get to do all of those things as a nurse because you never know what your patients need. Sometimes you need to tell a joke to help them relax and, sometimes, depending on the patient, we sing together.”
Nia’s passion is helping others. Her ethos, which she coined early on in her career, is that she gets to impact the world one person at a time because of her profession. “We [nurses] don’t only impact patients, we also reach their families and beyond. That’s why I’m a nurse.”
As senior nursing director at Anne Arundel Medical Center (AAMC), Nia does a lot of work behind the scenes taking care of the people who take care of the patients. Another important aspect of her role is the many diversity and inclusion initiatives she spearheads at AAMC, including helping to launch the organization’s first Coming to the Table series, focused on creating a more diverse and inclusive culture by having open, candid conversations about cultural differences and discussing ways to mitigate unconscious bias.
Thanks to such efforts, AAMC was recently nominated as the recipient of the 2020 Prism Diversity Award by the American Organization for Nursing Leadership (AONL). This award recognizes AAMC as a leader for advancing diversity efforts within the nursing profession, community or organization.
“Diversity is acknowledging, embracing and valuing each person’s uniqueness, while inclusion is recognizing that each person is unique,” says Nia. “Every individual brings something different to the table and diversity is important in order to be strong, both as a hospital and as a community.”
Nia helps to instill in her colleagues that they can do something to make sure they are inclusive just in the way they interact with another person. “The business that we’re in is health care and care promotes health. One of the ways we can all promote care, whether working with patients or not, is by being that person who includes everyone regardless of their preferences or the way they look and/or speak.”
Pro tip: “Be respectful of people for being human beings who have value. And be introspective so you are aware of your own biases — we all have them. If you’re not aware of them, you won’t overcome them.”