Lakeisha Atkins Malone is a familiar face on the neurosurgical intensive care unit (NSICU) at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, where she’s worked as a nurse for nearly three years. But nursing wasn’t her first career.
For almost a decade, Atkins Malone served as a cook in the U.S. Navy before training to become a nurse.
“I was 17 when I signed up to serve in the U.S. Navy,” Atkins Malone said. “I desired to be a nurse when I signed up, but I selected my second career choice – a cook. I was cooking for enlisted personnel and served 1,500 sailors a day and because of my ambition to advance, I quickly transitioned to cooking for officers. In that role, I supervised 30 sailors while cooking for 900 officers each day.”
Her military career allowed her to travel to scenic destinations including Dubai, Cape Town and even the equator. All the while, the ember fueling her desire to become a nurse kept burning. During her last two years in the service, she began to seriously pursue a nursing career.
“What I love most about nursing is being around people during their most sensitive times,” Atkins Malone said. “It definitely takes a special person with a wonderful heart to be the strength for someone when they are having a really tough time.”
After successfully completing nursing school, Atkins Malone began her nursing career at Memorial Hermann. She credits the skills she cultivated in the U.S. Armed Forces in helping her transition into her new role as a bedside nurse.
“When I think of my career in the U.S. Navy in correlation to my career as a nurse, I think of the word ‘submit,’” Atkins Malone said. “I think of being persistent and a strong hand being present. Regardless of the various challenges and adversities that may come, I have to keep pressing forward.”
Atkins Malone says her military experience is often reflected in her ability to provide detail-oriented, patient-centered care – something she says is critical, especially when caring for extremely ill patients.
“Working at Memorial Hermann is the best place for me. Seeing people who are less fortunate keeps me humble. It gives me the extra push I need to continue to do what’s set in my heart, which is to serve.”
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