NEW YORK NURSE: January 2008
by Rolando Tomas Infante
Melody Salisan is proud that she takes care of New York and she doesn't mind if everyone knows it.
The Coney Island Hospital staff nurse appears in the latest New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) promotional campaign.
The ad features Salisan, standing determinedly with her arms crossed, saying: “I was born and raised in Brooklyn. I dreamed of being an entertainer to dance and sing. I now know nursing is my dream job. I help meet the physical, mental, and spiritual needs of my patients. I take care of New York.”
“I did the ad for several reasons,” said she said. “First, I want to encourage others to consider nursing as a rewarding career. Second, I want the public to know that nurses are people, too.”
Born and raised in Brooklyn, Salisan was, in her words, “always helping. I loved entertaining others – especially at block parties, to sing and dance in front of my family, friends, and neighbors.”
She channeled her gifts toward nursing when her sister and aunt, both registered nurses, sold her on the profession. She started taking science courses at the New York Institute of Technology and found them intriguing enough to earn a nursing degree in 2004.
After Salisan passed her boards, she joined her sister, Venus, an emergency room RN, at Coney Island Hospital. “Venus was ecstatic when she saw my ad,” said Salisan. “She told the family first and she petitioned management to post the ad in the emergency room here.”
Salisan was among the HHC health care professionals who were selected for the campaign because of their accomplishments in public health. She was one of the few registered nurses to take part. She was approached by Brian Palmer, Coney Island Hospital spokesperson, when he noticed her participation in voluntary health-prevention outreach efforts in the community.
“I’ve never worked with a nurse who was as dedicated to the community and public health as Melody,” Palmer said. “She can communicate with any ethnic or racial group, coax them to get screened, and give them vital health preventive education.”
Despite having a hectic schedule as an outpatient staff nurse, Salisan is proud of the weekend volunteer work she has done in the surrounding community – treating those who avoid the hospital or general medical attention.
“People are comfortable when you are outside of the hospital setting, in their domain,” said Salisan. “These folks are more likely to ask you those medical questions that go unanswered for so long. Hopefully, I encourage them to set aside their fears and come into the hospital to receive a thorough examination.”
When asked to describe what Salisan’s ad means to young nurses just starting out or others considering a nursing career, Norma Wilson, a staff nurse in the Medical Outpatient Department, said simply: “Melody is the future of nursing.” She added that Salisan is showing what nurses can do by taking nursing to the streets. “She provides care for a population that is in desperate need of regular medical care and that usually enters the hospital at an advanced stage of illness.”
Since becoming an RN, Salisan has been living her dream at Coney Island Hospital – absorbing nursing knowledge from her colleagues and using this knowledge to take care of her fellow New Yorkers, regardless of where they might be.