Care Stories: Using Personal Experience to Help Patients
Mary Wright is a pediatric nurse endocrinologist whose primary commitment is to her patients; she promotes, advocates, and strives to protect their health, their safety, and their rights.
Mary has gone above and beyond for her patients: she voluntarily extended her hours into the evening to accommodate the school and work schedules of her young patients and their families.
As a Type 1 diabetic herself, Mary understands the hardships that her patients, their families, and their support teams face every day, and she uses her unique perspective to help them in their journey.
She started with Kaiser Permanente in 2006 as a diabetes educator and moved to a nurse practitioner role in 2010; she was one of the winners of the Kaiser Permanente Extraordinary Nurse Award in 2015.
Hear more from Mary about her motivations to pursue nursing.
When did you know you wanted to be a nurse?
I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when I was 10. As a kid, I went to diabetes camp, which is essentially a traditional summer camp with hiking, swimming, rock-climbing, and all that, but we had medically trained counselors who checked our blood sugars, calculated how many carbohydrates we were going to eat for each meal, and administered our insulin. When I got older, I continued attending as a counselor.
At the same time, I’ve always had an interest in math, management, and business. In college, I went back to diabetes camp as a volunteer, and realized I wanted to be a nurse. And because diabetes management involves a lot of number-crunching and math, it was the perfect fit for me.
What do you love about being a nurse?
It’s such a great opportunity to make an impact in people’s lives. When you’re in pediatrics, it’s not just the patient you’re impacting, but often the entire family and support team. When we get a newly diagnosed patient, it’s a big, life-changing event for the family. I feel fortunate to be in a unique position to hopefully make a hard day better for them.
It truly takes a village to manage Type 1 diabetes. In my role, I’m connected to so many aspects of my patients’ lives — the clinic, their families, their schools — and it feels really nice to be a part of a team of people who really care about each child.
Nursing is a demanding job. What do you do to stay level-headed?
Knowing I can make a difference keeps me going — that means a lot to me. The hardest part of my job is the emotional drain of working with families who are going through hard times, managing this chronic illness. Knowing that I’m helping them helps me.
What has being a nurse taught you, personally and professionally?
As a nurse, one of the first things you have to get down is to remain calm in the midst of crisis. That’s a lesson that’s helped me personally, too.
I’ve also learned that you can’t always control what happens to you, but you can control your outlook and your response to challenges. I see such a wide range of people who are dealing with hardships, and it’s so inspiring to see how they embrace life despite their challenges.
You can read the complete article on Mary and other care stories here.