Canada’s loss has turned out to be America’s gain, specifically for the Grady Health System (GHS).
Frustrated at not being able to secure full-time employment in the nursing industry in the Greater Toronto Area, Arlene Andrews-Howard made the bold decision to relocate to Atlanta two decades ago.
The move has paid huge dividends.
Employed as a registered nurse with GHS since 1993, she founded her own surgical management company a few months ago and was recently named the system’s Perioperative Nurse of the Year at its seventh annual Academy Awards for Nursing Excellence. The award is presented to a registered nurse who demonstrates excellence in the provision of direct operating room, post-anesthesia and ambulatory surgical unit patient care.
The GHS is the largest public health care facility in Atlanta and Grady Memorial Hospital is one of the busiest trauma centres in the United States.
Andrews-Howard was nominated by her peers.
“For me, this is like winning an Oscar,” she told Share. “It means that your co-workers respect you and the work you do and that all of the years I have put into the job and caring for my patients have paid off. This is the reason why I got into nursing.”
Born in Guyana, Andrews-Howard and her family migrated to Canada in 1978. A graduate of Francis Libermann Catholic High School in Scarborough, the mother of a seven-year-old son earned an associate degree in nursing from Centennial College and worked at Toronto East General Hospital part-time for nearly two years.
“At that point, it became clear that full-time work was not on the horizon, so I decided to come south of the border to pursue my career,” she said. “It was very challenging in the beginning in a new environment. I stayed with a friend of my parents for three months before I was able to get an apartment without furniture and eventually get my feet off the ground.”
Satisfied with her dedication and professionalism, Grady paid for Andrews-Howard to pursue her Bachelor of Science degree in nursing at Clayton State University. She graduated in 1999.
The operating room senior staff nurse recently established Jubilee Surgical Management that provides non-surgical aesthetic enhancements – including Botox and dermal filler injections – in a comfortable, safe and professional environment; first assist services and nursing psychological assessments.
As a first assist service provider, she assists surgeons during plastic surgery and general surgery, providing pre-operative, intra-operative and post-operative nursing care.
Winning the Perioperative Nurse of the Year Award has inspired Andrews-Howard to seek other challenges. She’s enrolled in Grand Canyon University Master’s nursing informatics program.
“I just want to do something different,” said Andrews-Howard. “I have achieved as much as I could in one area of the profession and it’s time to move on to a new test.”
Andrews-Howard credits her parents with fuelling her interest in the medical profession.
“I have an older sister who wanted to get into the sector but did not,” she said. “After I graduated from high school, my mother (she’s deceased) and father asked me what I was going to do and I said I might as well try what my sibling wanted to do. That’s how I got on this fulfilling journey.”
Despite a busy work schedule, Andrews-Howard still finds time to visit family and friends in the Greater Toronto Area at least three times annually.
By RON FANFAIR