Meet a Champion of Nursing Diversity: Rama Walker

Meet a Champion of Nursing Diversity: Rama Walker

Rama Walker is passionate about caring for people, and as a nurse leader, she has the privilege of caring for people whose career is caretaking.

Walker advocates for nurses and women, pushing them to be their best version. She knows better than anyone that nurses are innovative, caring, resilient, and well-rounded individuals who can adapt and thrive in challenging environments.

As a seasoned nurse with over 14 years of experience, Walker brings a unique perspective to her role as the Chief Nursing Officer and Chief Operating Officer of Nurseify.

Rama Walker is an important nursing leader, and we’re pleased to profile her as part of the Champions of Nursing Diversity Series 2023.

The series highlights healthcare leaders who are prominent figures in their organizations and are making transformational impacts in nursing.

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Meet Rama Walker, CNO and COO of Nurseify, Inc.

Talk about your role in nursing.

I started my career in home health and quickly advanced into leadership after a few months. I have always known that I had a ‘big picture’ mindset and wanted to support the team in patient care. Before joining Nurseify, I most recently served as the administrator and led facility operations for two freestanding emergency rooms for HCA Houston Healthcare Southeast, which performed over 38,000 patient visits yearly. I have also held clinical leadership roles at HCA Houston Healthcare West and other healthcare organizations in the Houston market.

How long have you worked in the nursing field? 

I have been a nurse for over 16 years and still cannot believe how much time has passed.

Why did you become a nurse?

I have always been nurturing toward others. I figured out early on that the key to a happy life is doing something that combines your passion, purpose, and skills. I was fortunate enough to find that in nursing. When I was in high school, I was in HOSA-Future Health Professionals. It was a program that exposed us to different careers in the healthcare field. I went in wanting to be a pediatrician and came out knowing wholeheartedly that I was meant to be a nurse.

What are the most important attributes of today’s nursing leaders?

Today’s nursing leaders need to be resilient, innovative, and caring. Healthcare is a dynamic environment, and these attributes will allow the nurse leader to find success and longevity.

What does being a nursing leader mean to you, and what are you most proud of?

Being a nurse leader allows me to take care of the people that take care of the people. I serve my nursing team and remove barriers so they can focus on providing high-quality care to their patients or whomever they serve.

Tell us about your career path and how you ascended to that role.

I began my career as a staff nurse in home health and quickly learned the clinical side of nursing and the operational side. During this time, I discovered my passion for being a clinician and developed a strong interest in understanding how everything worked together. I was fascinated with the interdisciplinary team. I then went on to outpatient care and progressed there in my leadership journey.

In addition to overseeing clinical operations, I took charge of a department that involved budget management and marketing strategies to enhance patient volume. These skills proved invaluable when I assumed the role of an administrator for two freestanding emergency rooms. I serve as both the Chief Nursing Officer and Chief Operating Officer at Nurseify, an on-demand, gig-nurses marketplace. Nurseify facilitates nurses in sharing their experience and availability with healthcare facilities while also granting these facilities direct access to nurses who meet their specific clinical assignment requirements.

What is the most significant challenge facing nursing today?

The most significant challenge facing nursing today is creating and sustaining healthy work environments. It is a challenge that impacts all the threats we face in nursing: violence towards nurses, nurse burnout, inadequate staffing, and high turnover rates.

As a nursing leader, how are you working to overcome this challenge?

I work towards this by promoting self-care and work-life balance and partnering with key stakeholders regarding safe staffing. Furthermore, in partnership with Nurseify, I am committed to providing and enhancing ongoing education and professional development for myself and the nursing community.

What nursing leader inspires you the most and why?

Throughout my career, I have encountered so many great leaders that choosing the most inspirational one is incredibly challenging. What stood out to me the most about these individuals was their ability to lead with poise in the face of adversity and skillfully advocate the needs of the clinicians they served with empathy and knowledge.

What inspirational message would you like to share with the next generation of nurses?

Nursing is, and has been, the most honorable profession. We provide comfort, support, and care to those who cross our paths, so it is important to remember that in all you do. Additionally, continue to invest in your well-being by being intentional with self-care and staying committed to lifelong learning. 

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

With all we have accomplished as a nursing community, we can continue to do much more when we work together and advocate for critical issues. We have an essential responsibility to share our unique perspectives that can contribute to positive change in our profession.

Meet a Champion of Nursing Diversity: Shada’ Medley

Meet a Champion of Nursing Diversity: Shada’ Medley

Shada’ Medley joined the University of Maryland Medical Systems to be a change agent for innovative nursing care with a more diverse population.

Medley says her career path is part of God’s plan and cites Denzel Washington and Oprah Winfrey as a source of inspiration.

Shada’ Medley is an important nursing leader, and we’re pleased to profile her as part of the Champions of Nursing Diversity Series 2023.

The series highlights healthcare leaders who are prominent figures in their organizations and are making transformational impacts in nursing.

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Meet Shada’ Medley, MSN RN, nurse manager in the Ambulatory Service Department. She manages the THRIVE program clinic, known as infectious disease, at the University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown Campus.

How long have you worked in the nursing field? 

I have been an RN for 20 years and a medical assistant for five years prior.

Please talk about your career path and how you ascended to that role.

I feel that it was in God’s plan. I started as a MA and had a 5-year plan to be a nurse (5 years is how long the MA/phlebotomy certification lasted). I met my goal. However, just as I was ready to enroll in nursing school, I realized that I could not afford my livelihood and attempted to withdraw. As I withdrew from the day program, CCBC initiated its first evening/ weekend program (God’s blessing). I enrolled in that program and completed it on time as scheduled within five years. My next goal was BSN, so I enrolled in the first nursing partnership cohort with Notre Dame. With the same partnership, CCBC recruited faculty from within the hospital where I was employed. I then duplicated the same situation for MSN.

At the MSN level, l concentrated on nursing education. I started healthcare in ambulatory care as MA. I entered a nursing role in critical care for 14 years. Then, I transitioned to outpatient ambulatory care as an interventional radiology nurse. While working towards my MSN, my current leader transitioned to a more corporate role and inquired how I felt about management. I never thought about management, just education. I am a product of teenage parents. I remember holding flash cards for my mom. I remember organizing my mom’s books. I remember when my mom told me about tutoring adults that couldn’t read and how important it was not to be judgmental. My manager had been teaching and guiding me to function in her absence, and I also attempted to do that with my team. I remember thinking, why would I allow someone new to take over a role I already know I can progress? So I applied for that position and was hired. I branched off to skilled nursing and went from manager to ADON within a year and DON within two years. After skilled nursing, I felt I needed to help patients never reach long-term care or intensive care units. I then returned to ambulatory care with a focus on the PCMH model. I came to UMMS to be a part of a larger organization that would allow me to flourish and be a change agent for innovative nursing care with a more diverse population.

Why did you become a nurse? 

I have always been able to put the needs of others before my own. I have always enjoyed the satisfaction of taking care of others. I became a nurse to help, care for others, and give back to society.

What are the most important attributes of today’s nursing leaders? 

The essential attributes are empathy, diversity, equity, and inclusion. Even if it is not your belief, seeing someone’s point of view opens doors for communication, which is always good. Proper communication leads to innovation within the healthcare system.

What does being a nursing leader mean to you, and how are you making a difference?

Being a nursing leader means someone who inspires passion and motivation in others to believe in advancement and forward movement. A leader ensures their team has the support and tools to achieve their goals professionally and personally and to advocate for professional advancement.

What is the most significant challenge facing nursing today?

Access to diverse, equitable healthcare and the lack of available nursing educators.

As a nursing leader, how are you working to overcome this challenge?

Making short- and long-term goals include maximizing my education to obtain DNP and assuring work-life balance. Also, to actively and continually participate in the academia of licensed and unlicensed healthcare professionals. Also, by encouraging others to set goals for advancement in healthcare.

What nursing leader inspires you the most and why?

I am inspired by all nursing leaders who can lead the profession with their hearts first by balancing equitable patient care and cost-effective care. The nursing leader who truly empathizes with the population’s needs. The nursing leader who supports diversity, equity, and inclusion as a framework in their leadership style. Most of all, I am inspired by the leader who understands they are only as good as their team.

What inspirational message would you like to share with the next generation of nurses?

Denzel Washington said, “Ease is a greater threat to progress than hardship.” Everything worth having is worth working for… sometimes our circumstances should be our motivation.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers? 

As Oprah powerfully stated, “No matter where you are on your journey, that’s exactly where you need to be. The next road is always ahead.” So be kind to yourself and know that you can do it!

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