Mary Hall combines love of nursing and working with people at Optima Health
Hall, a prevention nurse specialist with Health and Preventive Services, was recently featured in Sentara Nurse with her story about going back to school in her 30s to become a nurse. She had previously gone to college and majored in business and worked in sales.
“I loved the people, but didn’t care for sales,” she says. She found her passion was advocating for others and hands-on care and compassion. She tried to make her career in business work by subsidizing it with volunteer work at the hospital, but found it was limited in the direct patient care that she wanted because of her lack of health education. So, off to school she went to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing!
Hall, who was married with two school-aged children, found the experience challenging but rewarding. “I could be a good role model for my children and posted my report card beside theirs on the fridge,” Hall says. “Also, I was so interested in what I was learning, because by this time I had first-hand knowledge of some of the diseases and injuries I was studying related to personal experiences.”
As it turned out, nursing was apparently in Hall’s DNA. When she turned 40, she sought and found her birth mother and discovered that she, too, was a nurse!
While raising her children and going to school Hall also taught aerobics, which ultimately led to her job offer at Optima Health 15 years ago. “Physical activity was part of this job,” she says. “We offer so many services, such as the WalkAbout program, the free yoga DVDs and coordinating health screenings – it is very rewarding.”
Hall says she enjoys going back to companies where she has previously identified people with dangerously high blood pressure or cholesterol, and they have thanked her for saving their lives. Others have lost weight and begun exercising and become much healthier. These experiences make her decision to become a nurse a satisfying one.
“I am very happy I did it,” she says. “Being a nurse is a very respected and valuable position.”