Sheila Santana Colon is not only one of our most valuable employees (MVPs), but she is also a single mother who loves sharing new cultures and experiences with her son, Jean. She currently resides in Aibonito, Puerto Rico with her mother, Zulma.
Sheila, what’s the most important lesson you’ve learned as a nurse and how as it impacted you?
As a nurse, I’ve learned that listening to my patients is essential. Taking the time to hear their stories has enriched my understanding of them and their cultures. This has changed how I care for patients, especially in my volunteer work (on Tribal lands). I love making a positive impact on their lives as this is my passion. I love what I do.
How do you balance the demands of your job with your personal life and what strategies have you found to be effective?
Balancing work and life as a single mom isn’t easy, but I’m grateful for my mother’s support. She helps care for my son Jean so I can focus when I’m at work. I also make sure to be fully present with him when I’m home – we do some amazing things together! We compete as a team, and our competitions keep us close while teaching perseverance and commitment.
What led you to choose nursing?
I chose nursing because I wanted to help people. Being there during births, deaths, and health crises is an honor that I get to share with families at their most fragile. The most rewarding times are when I’m able to connect with people to share in something that for that family, at that moment, is all-important. Those moments remind me of why I became a nurse.
How would you describe the need for quality healthcare on Tribal lands?
The demand for quality healthcare in Tribal communities is incredibly important. As a nurse working in this field, I witness daily the health disparities and limited access to care that impact on health outcomes. The lack of resources, staff shortages, and barriers to care are felt by all. I am confident that with increased outreach and education, we can make significant progress in improving healthcare in these communities. When individuals have access to preventive services and consistent treatment, they are empowered to take control of their health.
What is a fun perk of working on Tribal lands that you didn’t expect?
The people are why I’m here, but a fun perk I didn’t expect is the food, specifically, Indian Tacos. Our staff is hooked and we make (Indian Taco) runs, repeatedly.
Thank you, Sheila!