Former East Alabama resident, Michelle Mobley, has realized her aspirations to help and heal patients. The Smiths Station High School alum originally wanted to become a doctor. However, she realized that she wanted to focus more on one-on-one patient care. Being able to talk with patients and learn about their lives was something that she particularly enjoyed, and may not have had the ability to do as a physician. To accomplish this aim, she pursued a degree at the University of Alabama and earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing.
For the past three years, Mobley has dedicated her life to her profession as a registered nurse. She worked in the cardiovascular ICU with patients in recovery from open heart surgery as well as medical cardiovascular patients. Initially, she was assigned to one hospital as a staff nurse, but decided to transition to travel nursing. It was an opportunity she had heard about during her schooling. Through this new avenue she was able to see new places and meet new people, more than if she had remained at one hospital.
“To become a travel nurse, most of the time you have to work for two years, especially the specialty that I’m in, but you have to work a year and a half to two and then you can start traveling,” said Mobley.
Travel nursing includes additional stipends that staff nurses do not earn. They also have to get acclimated quickly to different locales and situations.
“I’m at one hospital here in Florida right now for eight weeks and I hop around. Most contracts are 13 weeks, but you can kind of choose wherever you want to go,” said Mobley.
Nurses have one or two days of orientation and then they start in their new unit. One of her favorite locations that she has been to was Tucson, Ariz., where she had a short crisis contract that lasted four weeks. In her off time she was able to go outdoors, hike, and see new things.
One of her most memorable times of her career came from when she wasn’t traveling. At Grandview Medical Center she helped with a patient, who wasn’t part of her usual workload. This patient had to fight an uphill battle after surgery as he remained in critical condition. The general consensus was that he wasn’t going to make it, that there was nothing that could be done. Fortunately, they were able to provide him with the care that he needed, and after an extended period in physical therapy, he was able to return to see the medical personnel that helped with his recovery. The patient, a preacher, returned multiple times to see and speak with the people that worked to keep him alive.
“It was a really cool experience to see somebody go from nothing and through pure faith of him and his wife, come back from something that even professionals didn’t think was going to happen,” said Mobley.
With the pandemic at the forefront of many conversations, as it has wreaked havoc on various sectors of the economy and resulted in the drastic increase in the percentage of adults on unemployment, it hasn’t affected Mobley’s drive to help others through nursing. Her career has taken her across the country and led to her using her skills to confront the pandemic in one of the areas that has been hit the hardest. This year, she has traveled to Hackensack, N.J. to help an overly stressed medical system that was working with some dwindling supplies such as drips among other medical items.
“We had enough N95 masks, we were reusing them, but we had enough to get us through,” Mobley said. “It was like nothing I had ever seen, the patient load was ridiculous. Normally I am used to having one or two patients, one open-heart patient or two regular patients, but in New Jersey, I had four and five that were all critically ill, all intubated on multiple different drips and machines. It was definitely a learning experience.”
Although she was faced with the chance of contracting the illness herself, she was never fazed or nervous about the possibility of becoming critically ill through her close proximity to the virus.
While the traveling nurse still has family living in the local area, she has moved on to Birmingham. She grew up with her mom, dad, and sister Rachel, who is currently a teacher at Smiths Station High. During her time in the Phenix City and Smiths Station area, from starting out at Smiths Station elementary school, singing in choir, participating in church activities, becoming class president, and earning the requisite grades to become salutatorian, Mobley has continued to be a positive force.
In her spare time, she likes to watch TV; go outside and swim, which is her favorite thing to do; as well as spend time with friends. Her favorite shows include “Survivor,” “The Office,” and most reality shows. She is currently pursuing reading as an additional hobby.
As the seasons change, and the country weathers the storm caused by the pandemic, some things remain the same, people with the desire to help, even at risk to themselves, and people with the strength and presence of mind to care for the lives of others. Nurses are a group of people that have especially been on the front lines, dealing with the loss of life, while trying to not sacrifice the quality of care their patients need. Through Mobley’s humility, she denies that she is a hero and focuses on her desire to do her job. Still, she makes sacrifices every day to save lives.
“From all this experience, especially with the COVID patients, I have really figured out how to not take my life and the things that I have for granted,” said Mobley. “And, so I think that you have to be very careful about the way you love people because I have seen so many families be totally devastated by not just the [corona virus], but any kind of disease. So don’t take life for granted and just, figure out ways to help people.”