LifesaverDecember 21, 2016
Michelle Williams remembers helping people even as a little girl, learning early on that even the smallest gesture of kindness can reap great rewards.
She remembers visiting her grandmother in East Texas, watching her walk home in her white nurse uniform from the same hospital where she worked for 49 years—first in the kitchen, then with housekeeping, then as a Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN), and finally as a RN.
And Williams, a 2011 graduate of Dallas Nursing Institute, also remembers the first time her actions as a nursing professional saved a life, and what it felt like to know that everything she does, every day, has meaning.
As the RN Care Manager of a 37-bed cardiac unit at Baylor University Medical Center, Williams leads a team overseeing the holistic care of each patient. She also works as a hospice nurse on the weekends as a way to give back, seeing patients and counseling their families.
“By understanding the unique circumstances of our patient—their medical history, living situation, level of family support, and even their mode of transportation—I can lead my team to provide the most compassionate and comprehensive care possible,” says Williams. “But what makes me stand apart is the compassion-first approach that Dallas Nursing Institute is known for. Because of that training, I went from being the nurse on the back burner to the nurse on the front line.”
For her outstanding work, Williams was presented with the annual Baylor Champion Award in September 2015. And she has larger aspirations still. She recently received a Master of Science in Nursing, focused on palliative care.
“The role a health care professional can play to guide a family’s understanding of end-of-life issues is crucial. I lost 20 family members in a span of a few years. You have to teach a nurse how to exhibit that level of care at the toughest moment in a family’s journey,” Williams says.
In those moments, Williams emphasizes the need for a nurse to pay extra close attention to not only the needs of the patient, but the needs of the family members surrounding that patient—the kind of compassionate attention she learned at DNI.
“In my hospice practice, one elderly woman living with relatives started experiencing ‘terminal agitation,’” Williams says. “She was extremely uncomfortable, and her family was distraught not knowing how to make her feel better. I suggested the patient spend one week in a nursing home—both so she could receiver round-the-clock care, and so her family could have a much-needed break.”
Because of that break, the patient’s eventual passing—back in the care of her family—was peaceful and calm for everyone involved. “She was comfortable, and her family had the energy again to care for her at the crucial moment,” Williams says. “I was thankful to be of service to the entire family that week.”
Williams’ ultimate goal is to share her expertise about palliative hospice care at DNI as a professor.
“Dallas Nursing Institute transformed me,” she says. “I want to return the favor by teaching the next generation of nurses. That could be my legacy.”