Father & Daughter Duo — Impacting the World, One Vaccine at a Time
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Father & Daughter Duo — Impacting the World, One Vaccine at a Time

May 4, 2021

Get to know Lucy and Michael in their spotlight interview! These traveling RNs also happen to be father and daughter. You won’t meet a more inspiring pair of clinicians. Read on to learn more!

You both started working in the medical field for different, but similar reasons. Can you each describe what inspired you to go down this path?

L: Growing up with Dad as a nurse, there were many opportunities for me to pick up what nursing was about. I quickly realized how curious I was about people, what they were feeling, how they were feeling, and if there was something wrong, what I could do for them. That same curiosity fueled my interest in science and how the body works. I remember even when I was younger and friends were sick, I would always ask more detail, “Well, with what? Do you have a fever?” Being the youngest of 3, I was finally the one who went into the healthcare field as my dad always wanted one of us follow in his footsteps. I like to believe I really do have the “nursing blood” and I could not imagine doing anything else.

M: When I was drafted into the military in 1972, I joined the Navy Reserves and had a chance to “try out” a medical job as a Navy Corpsman. I discovered that I liked the challenges of caring for people at their time of most need and I enjoyed learning the necessary psychological and technical aspects in order to do the job.  After active duty I started working in hospitals as a nursing tech, which led me to attend a nursing college and opening a career in nursing.

Tell us what it’s like having the opportunity to work together and what your family said when you told them your plan.

L: Throughout my work in healthcare and throughout nursing school, my dad has lived vicariously through my experiences. We always “talk shop” at the dinner table and would have very long phone conversations about whatever I was studying in school. I would admire his stories and he also enjoyed the stories I told him. We both love to teach each other about the things we have learned in our individual experiences, so when this opportunity came up, we both had to take advantage of it. As nurses, we both love to learn and we believe in the power of public outreach for the community. We enjoy working with each other and we are now able to share our experiences we have made together with the whole family. Everyone in our family was very supportive and very excited for us. It’s nice to “talk shop” about the day we both had at the same place.

M: I had a heartfelt feeling to have the luck to work with Lucy as RNs together as COVID-19 vaccinators. Lucy was looking for nursing opportunities and I came easily out of retirement to get a chance to participate to use my nursing skills again in helping others to get out of the isolation the pandemic caused of 2020.

While we are on the subject, tell us about your family!

L: I am the youngest of 3 girls and we were all born and raised in Cincinnati. I am the only one who went into healthcare as both of my sisters took other paths. My oldest sister lives in Ohio as well with her family and is working on her degree to become a minister. My other sister lives on the East coast and works in marketing and advertising. My mom is an environmental geologist, and despite her not working in healthcare, she has always been good at answering practice questions in nursing school, sometimes even better than my dad! I also have 2 wonderful nephews who are my whole world. I love to teach them about the body and they love to listen to their hearts with my stethoscope!

M: Building a strong loving family is the most single solitary reason for me to get out of bed every morning. It is based on the love and strong relationship with my spouse, which builds the foundation of our love for each other. Our three adult daughters and their own lives and relationships keeps building that foundation, making it stronger by day.

You’ve each had unique experiences in the medical field. Can you briefly describe your journey and the most important thing you have learned along the way?

M: Although there are many technical aspects to nursing, the most important thing that I learned is that everyone who I have cared for is an individual with her/his own personal beliefs and cultural experiences. I enjoyed the technical challenges of working in various ICUs over the first 20 years of my career, but it was the personal interactions with patients and families that held my attention. In the second half of my career, I became a nurse practitioner in mental health at the VA, which brought many other aspects of advanced nursing practice that have their own unique rewards and challenges. There are a lot of opportunities in nursing to discover new areas of continuous growth of knowledge and skill.

L: I started my healthcare experience when I took care of my grandma, my dad’s mom, in Cleveland before I started nursing school. It was such a special experience for my whole family and for me. I then worked in home care taking care of a woman and she was with me through the beginning of nursing school. She encouraged me throughout school and life experiences as we built a bond. Throughout the last 2 years of nursing school, I worked as a Patient Care Assistant in a local hospital. As a new nurse, I worked in pediatrics for a while before I started this job. The biggest thing I’ve learned throughout my experiences is the power of patience with yourself. The patience it takes to learn, the patience it takes to be kind to yourself, and the patience it takes to continue to move forward even on your hardest days.

Lucy, you shared that plants make you ridiculously excited, because you love caring for them and the beauty they bring to your space. Michael, can you share something you are equally passionate about?

M: Beyond my passion for my family, including my brothers, my sisters, my in-laws, and beyond, the next most important thing is social justice and civil liberties of all people, all races, all religions, all cultures, all countries. It saddens me deeply that our world is witness to severe injustices and natural disasters every day that cause extreme hardship on people.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

M: The world is a fascinating place and there is so much to experience and enjoy. The internet and TV have brought those worlds to the ordinary person, of which I so much appreciate. Although I would love to visit everywhere, the most doable would be to drive to Alaska with my spouse in our camper and visiting interesting places along the way. I would love to experience the Aurora Borealis in person and the extended daytime and nighttime hours of the day. As a nurse, I have worked many nights in my day, and being awake when many are sleeping is a different feeling. I would like to actually experience the daytime when it is dark outside, and the nighttime when it is light outside. I would like to get to know the people in Alaska, for they have a unique view on the world. Maybe because of the long nights or long days.

L: I have always loved going to the mountains, and I would love to go any country with mountains. There, I have always felt I am my best self and am most at peace.

Michael, Lucy said she loves to cook – what is the best thing she has ever made for you? Lucy, what is the most memorable thing your dad has done for you?

M: Lucy is indeed a wonderful cook. She has an amazing ability to combine spices to make even the blandest meal mouthwatering and delightful. Although she can turn any meal into a chef’s special, what she does to ordinary hamburgers on the grill is a miracle. Even as I have these burgers in my memory, is seems like I can actually smell and taste them now in the isolation of any food present.

L: My dad has done a lot for me and I don’t think there’s one single thing I can praise and thank him for above all. He has the patience to teach me as I go through my career and life. Although, I always am especially thankful whenever I have car trouble or when I need things hung up in my apartment!

Can you each share a short story from when you were a kid that helped mold you into who you are today? It can be silly, stupid, warm and fuzzy, whatever makes you happy.

M: There are so many things that have influenced my development and my personality. From my parents, who are now deceased, to my brothers, one of whom died when he was just 4 years old, to my sisters, two of whom died on the day they were born. Although I grew up in a modest blue collar and Catholic family, I did not realize how privileged my upbring was until my adult years. My mother, who was a Candy Striper, always wanted to be a nurse, but raising a family of six took priority over her own personal interests and pursuits. My father was one of the hardest workers I know and knew everything about tools, building and fixing things. I learned so much from him. His famous saying is, “Why pay someone when you can do it yourself?”

L: As the youngest and unendingly curious child, I’ve learned how to develop my own interests and hobbies. I used to love to play “Doctor” with my friends and would always try to tell my friends what is real and what is fake, even if I didn’t even know! Today, my curiosity continues to drive me to learn new things and how I can improve my practice as well as my life.

How has COVID changed the way you look at nursing and what is one thing you will never forget about this past year?

M: The COVID-19 Pandemic and vaccination program gave Lucy and me the special opportunity to work together. When she applied for the job, she said, “Hey Dad, they need more nurses.” I went in the next day and was hired. They say there is a “silver lining to negative news.”

L: COVID has reminded me of the importance of education and public health and how much the role of the nurse has in that. Yes, there needs to be nurses to work in the hospital with the already sick patients, but it’s also important for nurses to participate in the education and prevention/spreading of diseases. The way public health has become so important this year has had a lot of impact, and I hope that it will continue to make a difference in people’s lives. That’s why I was excited about this job because I think if there was any time that community health outreach is important, it is now. I hope to continue to be a part in making a difference in the public health community.


A Note from the Interviewer

Speaking with Lucy was an absolute pleasure. I had the privilege to learn about her family, what shaped her, how her father came out of retirement to do a vaccination assignment with her, and how taking care of others is a way of life for them! Their paths are so intertwined—each uniquely their own, but both impacting and helping so many people along the way. It was an honor to be part of their lives for a few days.

A beautiful thing about working in staffing is that you have the gift of helping an individual find their next move in life, and they in turn allow you into their world. The ripple effect that one decision can have is limitless.

Thank you for sharing your story with us, Lucy and Michael! I will never forget it!

                                                                                                                        R. Schmitz

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