In 1990, during my nursing clinical rotation here at Roswell Park, I declared, “This is it. This is where I want to work.” Nearly 28 years later, I am still here and still look forward to coming to work every day.
I grew up thinking I wanted to be a reconstructive plastic surgeon, because I wanted to change lives. I felt it was my calling to make life better for those who struggled, but the amount of school was rather daunting, so I chose a different route in computer science.
When I was about 4-years-old, I knew I wanted to be a nurse. My grandmother was a licensed practical nurse, and she had a significant influence on my career. I often flipped through her nursing textbooks and marveled over all the fascinating photos and medical images.
From the time I was a little girl I always wanted to be a nurse, but sometimes things don’t always work out the way you imagine. I worked as a medical secretary at a different hospital doing insurance billing for some time before realizing that, if I was truly going to be happy, I needed to follow my passion.
For more than a decade, I was a secretary at Roswell Park. I loved my job but knew I wanted more. I especially felt a passion for interacting with patients. When I witnessed everything they were going through, I felt a desire to be by their side during their journey.
I am a voice for patients who are burdened by hospital bills, underinsured or struggling with complex medical decisions. I act as an advocate to help them get the medication, treatment and coverage they need. I fight through insurance and legislative red tape to break down financial barriers. I spend days, months and sometimes years working with a patient until all of their medical needs are met.
Late in 2015, Roswell Park and the Western New York nursing community lost a true pioneer. Eva Noles, the first African American woman to train and graduate as a registered nurse in Buffalo, died on December 2, 2015 at the age of 96.