Meet Pam Stewart. Pam is a wife, mother, grandmother, retired Navy Officer, spiritual care provider, and nurse, just to name a few of the roles she has held during her lifetime so far. Her path to nursing was unconventional yet fitting for a woman who believes in the power of experiences and the importance of creating new chapters in her life’s story.

Pam was born in New Jersey in 1950; her mother was a nurse, and her father was a career army officer. She and her older sister moved often, as far away as Japan, where she lived for four years.  She said, “Life as military kids was different and changed our worldviews for the better.”

Pam attended Mary Washington, the women’s college at the University of Virginia, in the late 1960s. She married and left to live in Michigan to work as a hospital ward secretary and unit manager for four years. While she enjoyed her job, she wanted to complete her degree.

“I decided at 25 that I could be 30 and still wish I had finished my degree, or I could just go back to school. Eastern Michigan University had started a full-time program for people working, so I returned to school and earned a bachelor’s degree in business.”

After earning her degree in business, Pam divorced and was at a turning point in her life. She had told her mom several times growing up that she wanted to serve in the Army like her father, but she said I had to earn a degree first.

“I was at a crossroads in my life, and since I had fulfilled my mother’s wishes, I decided to pursue my desire to serve.”

Pam enlisted in the Navy and served for 20 years. She began as a fleet support officer since, at the time, women were not allowed to go into combat, so ship-based assignments were not an option. She enjoyed her shore-based assignments on disaster preparedness and managing ships in the military sea of command unit. Her last assignment in the Navy was as a part of the medical command team.

“It was a fitting end to my Navy career because it reminded me how much I enjoyed working in a hospital setting. It reminded me that as a child, I was fascinated by my mom’s nursing stories, and I thought, why not me? After a successful military career, I believed I could do anything.”

So, Pam went back to school at the age of 52 to become a nurse. After graduating, she worked as a nurse at Crouse Hospital Intensive Care Unit for two years and then decided to transition to mental health care, working as a mental health nurse in Auburn and Syracuse.

“As a nurse specializing in mental health, I realized that I could be an effective nurse leader because of my military experience, degrees, and the ideas that I had to create a positive change. To do that, I needed to return to school to earn additional degrees in nursing to become a charge nurse. So, as a 60-year-old, I went back to school again!”

Pam enrolled in the University of Rochester’s “RN to Bachelor to NP” program, which would give her the credentials she needed to take the next step in her nursing career. Shortly after earning her bachelor’s degree in nursing to officially become a Registered Nurse, Pam was diagnosed with cancer.

“When I was diagnosed with cancer, that was the end of my nursing career. While I wasn’t a working nurse for long, it’s like everything you collect in your lifetime and experience. You will always continue to use it.”

Today, Pam and her husband Chuck live at The Glens, an independent living apartment community at The Nottingham. “Our home became too much work. I love to garden, and when I couldn’t physically do that anymore, the writing was on the wall for me. I knew it was time to downsize and move to The Nottingham, and I’m so glad we did. It’s a wonderful community here, and we are happy.”

Pam cherishes her time as a nurse and will always be thankful for it. “Once you are a nurse, you are always a nurse. I appreciate the time I spent in nursing and am thankful to connect with the nurses here at The Nottingham to recall our time helping others.”

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