I’m naturally somebody who’s a giver and somebody who likes to care for people. I’ve always been. I think that’s why we go into the profession — to be able to help people and make a difference.  My mom was also a nurse. I feel very fortunate that I picked a career that I’m passionate about.

Marla Sanabria, BSN, RN,  CCRN

Assistant nurse manager, Surgical Services

Mom of Two Boys, Daughter of a Nurse, Home Chef

A lot of my experience in nursing has been in the intensive care unit (ICU). I spent 15 years in the Cardiac ICU, but I recently transitioned to a leadership role on the Perioperative Unit as an assistant nurse manager. I’m very new to it, and I’m learning a lot, including how to advocate for the staff and encouraging them to practice self-care.

I’m not dealing with life or death every day, like I was in the ICU, taking care of some of the sickest patients in the hospital. Here, you’re multitasking more. It’s a different kind of stress.

In Periop, there’s constant patient turnover and constant demands to make sure we’re meeting the needs of the organization, but more so, meeting the needs of the patient. We really focus on moving the patients effectively through the system so we can provide the right care for them.

Making time for self-care

Being a leader is more challenging than I anticipated. Sometimes, the feedback that you’re receiving might not be so good. But rather than just looking at that one piece of feedback, I have to stay focused and look at the bigger picture so I can be there for my team.

Marla Sanbria, with her sons Andrew and Owen, goes for the “mom win” with homemade macaroni and cheese.

Organizations are becoming more aware of how much burden there is on the nurse or caregiver at the bedside and recognizing that we need self-care mechanisms. We know that we have PTO, but we need to make sure we’re using it.

On our unit, we take care of each other as a team. We always try to help each other with self-care, whether it’s making sure that everyone is getting breaks or recognizing when somebody is in a high-stress moment where they might need a little assistance or time to recover.

Zen in the kitchen

I’m trying to figure out work-life balance so that I can be successful at work and make sure that I can go home and be a mom. My biggest focus is my kids — my boys are at an age where they need me more than ever.

When I’m home, I love to cook. That’s my Zen — in the kitchen. I get a little bit of me time in there, and I enjoy doing that.

I always search for recipes and come up with my own way. I don’t have one specialty over another. Some foods I won’t make more than once because my kids don’t eat my food. But I had a win over the weekend: I made homemade macaroni and cheese and the boys both ate it and they both went for seconds. For a mom, that’s a win.