Women have long been the backbone of both the helping and healthcare professions, providing care and support to individuals and communities in need. As we celebrate Women’s History Month, it’s important to recognize the countless contributions that women have made to this field. From doctors and nurses to social workers and therapists, women have played a vital role in promoting health and wellness for all.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor of Statistics, women make up 77.6% of employees in the healthcare and social assistance industries. At Quincy Medical Group (QMG), more than 80% of our staff is made up of women.

Cindy Cook, RN Coordinator in Cardiac Rehabilitation, joined QMG in 1988. Pursuing a career as a nurse was a choice inspired by her family.

“I always enjoyed my science classes and I liked working with people, so healthcare seemed like a good fit,” she shared. “I was originally a Med Tech major, and after a couple of years of thinking about the jobs a Med Tech degree prepared me for, I decided to change to nursing. My mom and Aunt Prudy were both LPNs and I’m sure their experiences influenced my decision.”

Her mom worked in a variety of roles as an LPN, which allowed Cook to learn about the many opportunities found in nursing.

For Nikki Shields, Director of Behavioral Health, her path became clear during a class in high school.

“My sophomore year psychology class lit a fire for me — I needed to understand how people worked. I had struggled with anxiety for much of my childhood but didn’t realize that was what it was until much later,” she said. “Learning about how the brain works related to emotion helped me put my own struggles into a framework that made sense, and I decided I wanted a career that would allow me to help others do the same.”

Both Cook and Shields dedicate their careers to helping others and using their expertise to make a positive impact.

Shields said there are many things in her work that she’s passionate about — from how the brain works related to emotions and behavior to understanding child development to helping people find new ways to think about and address struggles in their lives. At the core of her work is helping people.

“If I had to pick one passion that tops all of the rest, it would be people’s stories. At the heart of any interaction with a patient, I’m looking for clues about how that person got to this moment in time,” she shared. “What experiences created the many nuances of their personality? What have they been through and how did they get through it? How do they make sense of their journey so far? What keeps them going on hard days? What gets in their way? When are they at their best? These are the questions that drive my work. Anytime one of these clues clicks into place, I am reminded that for all of the difficulties facing healthcare today, I’m right where I want to be.”

Similarly, for Cook, helping people on their journey is what drives her work and continues to inspire.

“Patient education is my passion, which is probably the result of the years I spent in Cardiac Rehab. I am passionate about preventative health, mental health, and sharing my knowledge with the patients,” she said.  “I enjoy answering patient questions about their devices, health, tests, etc., and calming their fears.”

As we celebrate Women’s History Month, we take this opportunity to recognize the impact of the women who came before us and thank all women who lead with their hearts, as well as their talents, to make a positive impact by helping others each day, especially those among our QMG family.