While she remembers feeling sad on the day she turned 21, only one month earlier, Jemelyn had left her home in the Philippines to move to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania where she began her new job as an RN at our Heinz Rehab Hospital—part of Allied Services Integrated Health System. Jemelyn knew little about living in the United States and was still learning her English skills. She was unfamiliar with her new hometown, only knowing that it was a few hours away from Philadelphia. She had neither a personal vehicle, nor license, and was therefore limited in her travels.
On her birthday, Jemelyn was particularly homesick. While she was at work that day, her supervisors unexpectedly called her into their office. She was surprised to find that Beverly Melnick, the Staff Education Nurse at the time, had a birthday cake waiting for her. This gesture meant a lot to Jemelyn. She strongly believes that she would never have been able to adjust to life in a new country if it hadn’t been for the kindness and support of her coworkers and supervisors.
Jemelyn did not always see herself as a nurse, originally intending to become a doctor. She chose to pursue nursing as her pre-med degree. Many of her family members are in the field, including her grandmother, who is as a community nurse. As the oldest grandchild, Jemelyn used to assist her grandmother while she cared for her patients. As an example, New Year’s Eve is a popular holiday in the Philippines and unfortunately firework accidents often occur at kind this holiday. Jemelyn remembers helping her grandmother treat wounded celebrators who had come to her house for medical attention. She had recollected that she “wasn’t really afraid of blood as a kid” so it comes as no surprise her ability to treat medical needs of her patients. Today, her 85-year-old grandmother continues to practice nursing, providing patients who visit her house with services such as blood pressure readings and blood sugar tests. To Jemelyn, she is an inspiration and role model.
Jemelyn inherited some of her grandmother’s supplies, including her medical bag and medical text books. She has also inherited her love of the field. During her studies, she realized that her heart was truly set on being a nurse. She earned her RN in 2004, before working for a short time on a medical Intensive Care Unit (ICU). In 2006, she made the decision to live and work abroad. At the time, one day’s salary for a nurse in the United States was equal to one month’s salary for a nurse in the Philippines. Although Jemelyn’s career was motivated by her passion for nursing rather than monetary gain, the move made the most sense financially.
A work agency matched her with Allied Services Integrated Health System. She was interviewed via videoconference and hired for a position at our Heinz Rehab Hospital. For the past nine years, she has been an integral part of the Heinz Rehab Hospital nursing team. Although adjusting to her new home was difficult, her coworkers could not have been any more welcoming and helpful. They provided her with supplies for her apartment, gave her rides to and from work and took her grocery shopping on her days off. Eventually Jemelyn gained her driver’s license and became more familiar with Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Working in rehabilitation was also a change, albeit a positive one. Her time spent on the medical ICU was emotionally jarring. She remembers experiencing her first code soon after finishing orientation. Working at Heinz Rehab Hospital, Jemelyn is now able to witness patients who could not stand or walk upon admission, soon regain those abilities. In 2013, she decided to become a Certified Rehabilitation Registered Nurse (CRRN). In earning her certification, she reached a goal for personal growth; she wanted to prove to herself that she had gained new knowledge and skills over the years.
Jemelyn describes herself as a highly organized person who is good at prioritizing tasks. These traits help her greatly in her work. She also has a big heart, and her compassionate care is an asset to the workplace. Says nursing supervisor Marie Davis, “She is very professional and kind to her patients and their families.” Indeed, kindness is an intrinsic part of her philosophy on nursing. “You have to think of the whole person, whole patient in general,” she says. “It’s not just giving meds…It’s holistic.” Of all of Jemelyn’s qualities, her character stands out the most. It is what makes her an extraordinary nurse as well as an extraordinary person