StoryCorps at SHC: Nicole Cromwell

After that night, I realized something was sparked in me.


Nicole Cromwell: Amy was more than just someone with cancer. She had a life, she had a family, she had hobbies. I started asking Amy's family to tell me about her. I found out she was an artist. She loved to draw, she loved to paint, she loved to find hearts in nature. I asked her family to bring Amy's artwork in since she was an artist, to decorate the walls and show everyone how talented she was. And we were all very hopeful for Amy's recovery. And so we wanted her to see her artwork when she woke up. So then a while later when Amy lost her battle, it really hit her nurses hard. And I wanted to do something to honor Amy's memory. So I arranged for 14 of Amy's nurses to... And even our amazing manager came with us. We attended an art night. We created, we laughed, we cried.

We honored Amy and we had a great time. After that night, I realized something was sparked in me. I had never painted before. My father was an artist. My grandmother was an artist, but it was never anything that I thought I could ever do. It was just opening up a whole new world for me, and I was really enjoying it. So fast forward to today and I've been able to transition to a full-time artist and part-time ICU nurse, and I have an art studio in Carmel -by-the-Sea. I've won awards for my art, one from the San Diego Museum of Art and one from the Los Gatos Museum of Art. And I have created two giant fiberglass hearts for the city of Carmel. And I have a thriving art practice. And something I'm really proud of as well is that I'm going to be on the cover of the Critical Care Nursing magazine.

And my ultimate goal has always been to share what I've done with my colleagues because I know it's helped save me from burnout and exhaustion and has transformed my life. And so many people are struggling. I think that all of the healthcare workers need to figure out how to get balance mentally, emotionally, physically. This is hard work, and I think balance is so important. And I've been fortunate enough to find my balance in painting and sometimes even... And that gets tipped and it's too much art, and I have to shift and realize that I need a personal life too. But it's so important for all of us to keep our healthcare force healthy and working and able to come back and care for our patients in meaningful ways.

Sound Editor: Carolina Correa

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