Black History Month not only serves as a reminder, but it also symbolizes the struggles and achievements of those African American ancestors who came before, says Sherelle James, RN, senior director/assistant chief nursing officer for Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center. “It allows us to take time during the year to remember the past but also rejoice in their achievements.”
Inspired by those stories and accomplishments, Sherelle said she knew from a young age she wanted to make her mark as a nurse. At age 8, Sherelle would watch the struggles her grandparents faced with diabetes mellitus complications.
“I would visit my grandparents in the nursing home several times a week with my parents and loved seeing the nurses in their crisp, white uniforms and nursing hats,” she explains. “The nurses were always kind and compassionate to their residents and the family members. I would always tell my mother, ‘I want to be a nurse just like these ladies wearing their white uniforms and helping the elders in the nursing home that are hurting.’”
Sherelle worked as a Certified Nursing Assistant, Licensed Practical Nurse and Registered Nurse before entering nursing leadership. She felt taking this path would provide greater insight and understanding for the different levels of patient care, which would be advantageous to her as a leader.
“As a new leader, the best advice came from one of our Franciscan Sisters, ‘As a nurse leader, you will have to decide if you would like to be a follower or leader resulting in meaningful change,’” Sherelle says. “This stuck with me for over 10 years as a nurse leader and paved the path for positive outcomes for our patients and team members.”
After 18 years with the Our Lady of Lourdes family, Sherelle says she finds inspiration in faith and motivation in always approaching the day with a purpose.
“I choose to always start my day with the purpose of touching those in need, whether it is direct patient care or through my interactions with the nurse leaders and frontline staff,” she explains.