Mariangelin Perez, a registered nurse at Cherry Hill Manor in Johnston, Rhode Island, recently won the Long-term Care Nurse of the Year award given by the American Nurses Association of Rhode Island in conjunction with RI Monthly Magazine.
Perez was nominated by her peers and selected from a pool of nominees by a panel of judges from the ANA.
Perez’s love for nursing developed long before she began her career in nursing.
“I grew up around family members that were in the health care field, so that piqued my interest,” said Perez. “In high school, I joined the health care Magnet program and shadowed staff nurses, and that’s when I knew for sure that I wanted to be a nurse too. I worked as a certified nursing assistant for a few years while going to nursing school, graduated, and have been doing this ever since. I love it!”
Perez began her nursing career at Cherry Hill Manor in 2015 working in the sub-acute unit, and then transferred to the long-term care unit due to her strong passion for senior care.
“I seem to be drawn more toward the elderly,” said Perez. “I have a strong connection with them and their families. I started realizing that I really enjoy working with the older patients, so when I had the opportunity here to transfer from the sub-acute unit to long-term care, I just knew it was the right thing.”
Although excellent medical practice is a very important aspect of Perez’s job, she realizes that nursing is about much more. Her heart is for the “family-like” dynamic nursing has to offer, and she loves making personal connections with her patients and their families.
“We’re not just passing out meds all the time – we’re there for them emotionally and spiritually as well,” said Perez. “My favorite thing about my job is caring for the patients and putting a smile on their faces even when they’re having a tough time. It’s just a very rewarding feeling to know that I can make even a small difference in their lives. I also get a lot of feedback from their families when they’re away and they can’t be here for them. They always thank me and let me know how thankful they are for me being here when they can’t be. That makes me feel really good.”
Upon hearing that she won the award, Perez was surprised and excited that she was chosen as the recipient.
"I am very thankful for those who acknowledge my hard work and dedication to this amazing career," Perez added. “I am very humbled and honored all at the same time because you can be nominated, but you never know if you’re going to be selected among everybody else. It is super exciting to know I was chosen, and I’m looking forward to the awards in September.”
The ceremony for the 2018 Excellence in Nursing Awards was held at the Harbor Lights Marina in Warwick, Rhode Island, on Sept. 27.