By Contributing Writer - May 10, 2019
Pam Lowry wanted to be a nurse for as long as she can remember. She read all of the Cherry Ames nursing novels growing up and loved going to work with her mom, an emergency room secretary, to observe the chaos. Lowry would often watch the ER staff treat patients and ask questions, something that modern patient information privacy rules would make almost impossible today. She says the staff took the time to teach her about being a nurse and working on a team. Their willingness to show her the ropes cemented her decision to become a nurse.
But it was her own battle with cancer and caring for her mother, who also fought the disease three times, that was a game changer for Lowry. “You take nothing for granted and learn to appreciate the little things in life. Celebrate every victory, no matter how small. When my mom was undergoing treatment, I wasn’t a nurse, I was a daughter. No one at her treatment facility knew I was a nurse until my mom told them. They treated her with so much compassion. On the outside looking in, you realize how important the little things are – a smile, a touch, a warm blanket, or an extra few minutes to talk. They all add up. I have always cared for my patients like they are my family and how I would want to be treated. Watching the care my mom received truly drove home the point of how much it really matters. We have no idea about the journey the patient and their families are on. Being on the outside looking in really solidified for me why I do what I do, and to keep doing it.”
Lowry has been a nurse for 27 years. She has spent the last six of those years at Moffitt Cancer Center, where she recently received the Outpatient Nurse of the Year Award. She began her Moffitt career in the Head and Neck Clinic and now works in the Malignant Hematology Clinic. Lowry has seen a lot of changes over the past three decades. She says while there is more autonomy and respect, she feels we’ve lost the personal touch by being so focused on computers.
Lowry says nursing is much more than a job. It’s a passion. A wise old-school nurse once told her, “You can do so much more with a touch that you can with any instrument.” Lowry says that’s what nursing is all about and it is something she’ll never forget. She encourages those entering the nursing profession to be personable because “Patients can see right through someone who is just going through the motions.” She says it’s okay to cry and, more importantly, it’s okay to care. “We wear out hearts on our sleeves,” she adds. “That’s why we are nurses.”