Nurse aid provides late night TLC

Originally published in the Rocky mount Telegram

LaShawnya Norman

Last October, Suzanne Clark said she got to see compassion and love in action late at night in a Nash UNC hospital room.

As La’Shawnya Norman, a Nash UNC nurse aide II, took care of her mother, Clark said it was something special to see.

“La’Shawnya spoke to my mom in a calming tone and tried to create a soothing environment. She turned down the lights and closed the door to minimize noise and disruptions. She held my mom’s hand and rubbed her arm. She stroked her cheek and spoke to her in a soft voice. She reassured her that she was not alone and that she was loved and cared for,” Clark remembered. “I witnessed a compassion that I have seen few convey. La’Shawnya can connect with people. Even those who, at times, seem unable to be reached.”

“She is gifted with patience and compassion to care for elderly patients,” Clark said.

Norman, 43, said she was just doing her job and that she really does love her patients when she’s caring for them.

“It’s just the way I see patients as I’m caring for them. I see them as a part of my family and I want to give them the best care — the best love,” Norman said. “And that can be medical-related things or holding their hand. I think making someone feel less scared can help them to feel better.”

Norman has been a nurse aide for 17 years and has been at Nash UNC since October 2016.

“My grandmother worked at Nash UNC when I was a girl. I remember seeing her put on her blue dress and go to work every day. I always liked to see her do that and it made me want to work in the health care field,” Norman said.

She received her training at Nash Community College and Edgecombe Community College and works in the Nash UNC float pool — meaning she is assigned to different locations to work every day. Norman, who works the night shift, said she works the most on the third floor and considers that her “home” department.

“But I love going to the different departments and seeing and learning new things and working with new people and making new friends,” Norman said. “No days are alike and I enjoy my work. Every day, I like what I do.”

Because Norman is in the float pool, she is occasionally assigned to sit one on one with a patient who is in need of additional care.

“I stay with the patient all through the night. I try to make sure they get some rest, or at least try to make them more comfortable,” she said. “With some patients, we talk. Or I might hold their hand or stroke their hair or whatever calms them.”

When asked what about her career she’s most proud of, Norman laughed and said, “My kids.”

She said both of her grown daughters went into the health care field and attribute their choices to seeing their mom work.

“I am so proud of them,” Norman said. “Both of them are in Durham and one will graduate with a degree in psychology and the other has a degree in recreational administration and wants to eventually work in a nursing home.”

Norman said her greatest hope is that her kids do something they have a passion for and work with people they can consider a second family.

“I think part of why I like my work and can do a good job is because I have good co-workers,” Norman said. “We all help each other out and work so well together at Nash. Especially my coworkers on the third floor, where I work the most. They are all so supportive of me and I do my best for them.”

LaShawnya working