One sure thing about being a nurse is you never know what each day will bring. That’s both exciting and challenging, but when the COVID-19 global pandemic hit in March of 2020, those on the frontlines in healthcare saw something they never expected.
Nicole Mason is a Registered Nurse (RN) at Quincy Medical Group (QMG), where she has worked for the past 10 years. Though challenging, the pandemic taught her a lot about herself and brought her closer to her coworkers.
“Being a nurse in the pandemic has proven to be many things, just to name a few — challenging, emotional, and terrifying,” Mason shared. “Teamwork is a must, your day-to-day may change dramatically, however, I feel it has brought working relationships closer.”
The desire to help others is what inspired her to pursue a nursing career. Mason wanted to make a difference, and though the pandemic took a toll on her emotionally, she said the experience also made her a better nurse.
“This has all been a new experience. And, I learned it’s ok to not be ok. There wasn’t a guide that came along with it. I say, all in all, everyone has done a fantastic job,” she said.
Challenges in her career aren’t new to Mason. In 2019, the physician she worked for, QMG Urologist Dr. Michael Ouwenga, passed away at just 43 years old. In their time working together, they formed a bond.
“I applied for a float nurse position at QMG, but when I came for the interview, I was asked if I wanted to interview for a nursing position with a new urologist who was starting at QMG. My first thought was, ‘Urology? Not sure that’s for me,’” she said with a smile. “But, we connected right away, and before I made it to my car after the interview, my leader called and said he wanted me for the job.”
The two worked together for more than eight years. She carries the lessons learned from him with her each day.
“He was very, very caring. He wore his heart on his sleeve and his patients saw that,” she said. “We still have patients who remember him and his kindness. I hear how he cared for them with such compassion and saved their lives.”
In total, Mason has spent 26 years working in healthcare, first as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) and a Restorative Aid at a nursing home for 16 years, and the last decade as an RN. She has no regrets.
“Reflecting back on my career I can say I have learned so many things. I know without a doubt I am in the profession I am meant to be in.”
For those who hope to be a nurse one day, Mason said the career is full of rewards.
She offers this advice: “Strive for your dreams, work hard, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. The nursing field is always changing, be adaptable to change, be compassionate, be dedicated, amongst many other things. I can tell you it is a very rewarding job.”