|Spring 2010-Nurse Profile|
Growing up, Faye Williams, R.N., M.S.N., NE-BC, planned to work in the medical field, but she never wanted to be a nurse. Then a lunch with her best friend’s aunt, who was a nurse manager at UAB, quickly changed her mind. “After being with her for half a day, I knew that nursing was what I wanted to do,” Mrs. Williams says. “And this was the place where I wanted to be.”
Today Mrs. Williams is a nurse manager in the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Inpatient Medical Oncology Unit. The Tuscumbia native has been working at UAB since 1992, graduating from the UAB School of Nursing in 1993. Her career led her through several departments, including orthopedics, internal medicine and urology, before some hospital restructuring brought her to the hematology-oncology unit. “The group of doctors I had been working with and loved was moving to hematology-oncology,” she recalls. “Everyone told me I didn’t want to go to hematology-oncology, but I decided to take a chance.”
An Appreciation for Life
Mrs. Williams transferred to the Inpatient Medical Oncology Unit in January 1997. It is a decision that she has never regretted.
“I knew nothing about oncology, but I immediately fell in love with it,” she says. “What really grabbed me was the level of appreciation that came from the patients. I had taken care of many types of patients, but when I came here, there was a different appreciation for life.”
The Cancer Center’s inpatient unit is located on the ninth floor of the Spain-Wallace Building in UAB Hospital, and as much as 95 percent of the center’s chemotherapy is administered there. “Many of our patients have blood cancers—leukemias or lymphomas—but we also treat solid tumors,” Mrs. Williams says. “Some of our patients get their chemotherapy at The Kirklin Clinic®, but they may be admitted to the unit because they’re immunosuppressed or they’re having trouble dealing with the side effects of the medicine.”
Mrs. Williams started in the unit as a staff nurse but was soon asked to be the full-time charge nurse. At first, she hesitated because she was concerned that she would no longer be caring for patients. But that was not the case, and she accepted the job. In April 2002, Mrs. Williams received the opportunity to become the unit’s nurse manager. “I had been feeling like my career wasn’t advancing—that I was helping everyone but me,” she says. “When my manager asked me about the nurse manager position, I immediately said yes.”
As nurse manager, Mrs. Williams’ role is to make sure the unit has everything it needs to provide the patients with the best possible care. Approximately 50 professional staff members, including 36 nurses, work in the unit. “I tell my staff that the unit is their home, and my job is to make sure they have everything they need to run things smoothly,” Mrs. Williams says. “What this staff does every day is phenomenal.”
When she is not working, Mrs. Williams enjoys spending time with her husband of two years and her three stepsons. She loves reading, the outdoors and music, and she is a self-described “sports fanatic,” especially for football. She received her master’s degree in nursing in December 2008 and is considering pursuing her doctorate in the field.
But day after day, helping people remains her favorite activity, Mrs. Williams says. “I love our patients, our staff and our doctors,” she says. “I love to help my staff develop professionally because the better they are, the better they’ll be able to take care of patients.
“You need a big heart and compassion to be a nurse anyway, but when you take care of cancer patients, it has to be within you to do this day in and day out because it can be emotionally draining,” Mrs. Williams says. “It can be very rewarding also. I truly love this area of nursing, and I wouldn’t change a thing. It was the best career move I have ever made. UAB is the best place in the world to work, and to be a part of the Comprehensive Cancer Center is truly a blessing.”