“I just love seeing someone get better”: Max is October’s Nurse of the Month

Shelby Max, center, holds a plaque presented to her from Dr. Candace Johnson, left, and Mary Anne Long, right.

Shelby Max was perfectly content working as a chef until she had her first daughter.

“I was inspired by the nurse that took care of me. That’s when I decided I wanted to be a nurse,” she says. “I never considered being a nurse before. I just felt a calling — it felt like that was something I needed to do.”

By 2015, she was Shelby Max, BSN, RN, after earning her associate degree, then her bachelor’s degree, at Daemen University, all while working full time with a toddler at home and her second daughter on the way. “It was a little challenging,” she admits now with a laugh.

She wanted to work at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center because of how her father was treated here after he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, despite working at a different hospital at the time. “I just felt it was a good way to pay it forward because he was treated so well. When I came here with him, it just felt different. It was a different place.”

After a short stint as an operating room nurse, Max applied for a position in the breast clinic, where she’s one of eight nurses on the team. “My goal was to be in the breast clinic. I had exposure to breast cancer patients before and they were always some of my favorite patients,” she says.

Max quickly became a key member of the team. “I have enjoyed her presence since the day we met,” says Allison Courtney, BSN, RN, a fellow breast clinic nurse who nominated Max to be Roswell Park’s Nurse of the Month for October. “She has a warm and easygoing personality, and she is always fun to work with; even on the busiest days I look forward to knowing I get to see her! She is reliable. I know when a task needs to be done, and done well, that Shelby can handle anything. She is quick and efficient but never at the expense of her compassion. She has a wonderful rapport with all of her patients. She knows how to get her coworkers and her patients laughing but is also a kind and calming presence when a patient or even one of her coworkers is in need of extra support. She is flexible and willing to adjust to the needs and demands of the clinic and help wherever it is needed.”

The whole team feels like an extended family, Max says. “We all bring such different skills to the table. We all lean on each other for assistance. If there’s something I’m weak in, someone else is strong in it. We work so well together as a team. We know we’re all here for the same reason. I love my coworkers, it’s a really great group here.”

It’s all about the patients for the whole team, she adds. “I like that on somebody’s worst day, we can be a bright spot to them. I like connecting with my patients. I like connecting with my patients and helping through what could be the worst time of their life. We get to know some of our patients really well and their families too. It sounds so cliché, but I just love seeing somebody get better. That’s the best thing about my job. I have family who have gone through treatment here and some who, unfortunately, did not make it, but knowing there are people you can see get better? That means everything.”

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