Melanie Lee, clinical director of nursing at Luminis Health Anne Arundel Medical Center (LHAAMC), keeps a handmade card from a young girl above her desk.
When the girl was a patient on her unit, she told Melanie a secret that changed the course of her young life. The child told her that someone was abusing her. Melanie contacted authorities immediately and the girl was removed from her abusive environment.
The note inside the girl’s handmade card was simple. But it brought tears to Melanie’s eyes the day she read it.
“Thank you for saving me,” she wrote.
“I keep the card as a reminder of how you can make such a difference in someone’s life,” Melanie said.
Making a difference in the lives of patients like the young girl and other children at LHAAMC is something that Melanie does every day. She is being recognized by the Washington Post and American Nurses Association as a finalist in the 2021 Star Nurses award program. The award highlights nurses who are “the best of the best — in the DMV area.” Finalists will be celebrated in a virtual ceremony later this month.
What are your thoughts about being a Star Nurse finalist?
I’m humbled and greatly honored by this Star Nurse nomination. In my 18 years of nursing, I have always felt it a privilege to be able to care for ill or injured children, comfort their families, and advocate for the most vulnerable. I would never have been able to receive this honor if it weren’t for the caring and compassionate team members that I work with every day.
Explain your current role at LHAAMC?
As clinical director of nursing, I manage daily operations of the pediatric emergency department and inpatient unit. One of my top priorities is throughput, which means ensuring that kids get in and out of the emergency department as fast as possible with great care.
Why did you decide to pursue nursing as a career?
When I was 13 years old, my grandfather got very sick and my family spent a lot of time in the hospital. The nurses treated us like they had known us forever. They provided a lot of support to my family during that time. I remember thinking, if I can be that for someone else, I would feel so fulfilled. From that experience, I decided I was going to be a nurse.
What do you like most about working in pediatrics?
Pediatrics is 17 and under. You really get a variety of children to take care of every day and there is something special about each group. You can cuddle with the infant. The toddlers are funny and very honest. Our school-age children are really into learning. Often, we can relate to our adolescents by talking about the latest music. We get a huge variety of children from all walks of life.
Nursing has evolved into so many different roles. There is something so admirable about being a bedside nurse and taking care of the patient. There is also a lot of hard work that goes into creating policies that improve quality of care through safety. You could also teach. Once you decide on your nursing focus, don’t give up. There is always a way to get where you want to be.