I’m a Better Nurse Today Because of My Mentor

By Meredith Whittemore

Sometimes, the most influential teachers reveal themselves outside of  the formal education process.

That’s the case for Ashlyn Cooley, RN, a nurse at Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Medical Center. Cooley participated in the Nurse Residency Program in 2018 and points to her Clinical Coach, Barbara Garza, RN, as having a large impact on her first few months at the bedside.

“She was a great friend, but also a great teacher. She encouraged me, never made me feel intimidated. I  wouldn’t be as far as I am today without her,” Cooley said.


Watch their video here.

Garza not only helped Cooley feel welcome in her new role, she also helped equip her with some practical knowledge to help her be a better caregiver.

“I know that I often learn things from watching someone first. So when it came to perfecting her abilities to put in an IV, I showed her how I do it and offered some ‘tricks of the trade’ and that seemed to give her some extra confidence,” Garza said.

“You practice a lot on mannequins when you’re in nursing school. So it can be intimidating when you have to do it on a patient the first time. I remember her being a little nervous, so I just offered to show her how I did it,” Garza added. ”Because I learn from watching, and it seemed to help her out and give her some extra confidence.”

Garza herself credits  her mentor for helping her be where she is today.

“I had a great mentor when I was in the Nurse Residency Program and so I want to be a great mentor to others,” Garza said. “I think patience is one of the greatest traits a mentor can have and I try to be patient and demonstrate best practices to everyone I mentor.”

While the pair no longer work in the same department, they enjoy passing each other in the hospital and they remain friends.

“Barbara was always available to me at every phase from my orientation and beyond. I am a confident nurse because of her guidance and support,” said Cooley.

Ashlyn Cooley and Barbara Garza are among the many nurses across Memorial Hermann Health System who are dedicated to providing high-quality health care while maintaining a caring and considerate attitude. In honor of Nurses Week, we are recognizing them for their service. Their hard work and compassion are appreciated 365 days of the year!

Learn more about Memorial Hermann nursing careers here.

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