The passion of a nurse

Baby in the nursery. Photo by Michaella Neil.

Baby in the nursery. Photo by Michaella Neil.

Babies, babies, and more babies! For 25 years it has only been babies, and for Angela Neal, that has not been a problem.

Neal serves as a Registered Nurse in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, also known as the NICU by many of the current staff at Novant Presbyterian Hospital in Charlotte, N.C.  Neal was recently acknowledged for her 25 years of service  and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. And as her daughter, I wouldn’t want her to be anywhere else.

For years, Neal has helped care for babies in many different conditions – babies born premature, with addictions, with internal problems, and much more.

Neal started working at Novant Presbyterian Hospital in June of 1989 were she simply cared for the sick babies on the floor. In the year 2007, Neal received a promotion to the Discharge Planning Coordinator, but early in 2012, she went back to the floor, “sitting behind a desk was not the same as caring for the infants,” she explained. Prior to her promotion, in 1997, Neal’s position at the hospital changed to a Preceptor. Her job was to train newly hired employees to the unit. She often worked with college graduates who had recently obtained their degrees in nursing.

“As a nurse, you always have to be a life learner,” Neal says. “You need to be on your toes. And sometimes you’ll have people you’ve worked with that will not always be so nice, no matter what, you have to always treat people right.”

Neal often teaches her trainees that lesson. She believes that nurses currently enrolled in any nursing program should always remember that being a nurse makes you the most trusted person in the world.

“People will trust you with their lives, literally!” Neal said, underlining that nursing is not a career, but a calling and that it is changing as the medical field is changing, “I believe it’s important that you are always willing to learn. Things are always changing and transforming. There are things that we did decades ago that we don’t do now. Nursing is constantly changing.”

Neal believes that individuals interested in the field of nursing should be passionate about the field. They should always be ready for the change and for impacting someone’s life.  Believe it or not it will happen, and happen often.

Current Western Carolina University nursing student Brielle Burnette believes that there is a lot to learn from an individual who has been in the profession for 25 years.

“I want to gain knowledge and wisdom about how she have managed to stick around for so long,” Burnette says. Burnette is currently enrolled in the BSN program.

Burnette always knew that she wanted to pursue a career within the medical field, whether it was with physical therapy or sports medicine. Burnette didn’t realize those options would not work until she worked as a CNA at a long term care facility, quickly discovering physical therapy and sports medicine are not for her. Burnette then discovered nursing, and felt that so much more can be done with that degree.

Neal and Burnette share one characteristic when it comes to nursing, and that is their passion for others.

“I love to take care of people physically, mentally, and spiritually,” said Neal. “I want to feel like I make a difference, I love to help people. Nurses are great contributions to society.”

Neal expresses that she has stayed in the NICU because she loves making an impact on a babies’ life and their parents. The parents often keep Neal in the child’s life and will return the NICU to visit at birthdays or other life accomplishments.

On Nov. 2, Neal was invited to a baby’s christening, and felt honored to be a part of such a major event in that child’s life. That baby had once suffered from a brain abscess.

See the photo slideshow showing you a day in a life of nurse Neal.

The reporter Michaella Neal is daughter of nurse Angela Neal.