Maria Shares Her AAPI Heritage Month Thoughts

May 31 2022

Meet Maria Kirton, BSN, RN, CMSRN! She has been kind enough to share some of her firsthand thoughts on Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. Check them out here.

“First of all, thank you for the opportunity to let me tell my story during Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month! What a blessing it has been to be an active part of this health care ministry almost 37 years now in the Women’s Specialty Unit (WSU) at Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital. Our team provides compassionate and excellent care to patients with post-surgical needs such as post-mastectomy, post-gynecological surgical oncology, plastic surgeries and other gynecology related surgeries. In the last four years, we have had the opportunity to take care of antepartum patients as well.

I am thankful to work in WSU with hard-working colleagues and with other health care teams who all play important roles in the patient’s holistic plan of care. Thanks to our leadership team for their support and appreciation, too!

As one of the charge nurses in WSU, one of my roles is to assist in coordinating a patient’s plan of care, collaborate with staffing within the division, communicate with patient placement and serve as a resource in the unit. I also actively participate in shared governance and am the chair of the Unit Base Council as well as the representative to the Nursing Quality Outcomes Council. It is important that each member of the team has a voice in the decision-making process.

I am also a member of the review board of the St. Mary’s Professional Nursing Advancement Program. This gives me an opportunity to encourage my colleagues and assist them in their professional growth and advancement journey. I have been involved with the onboarding of international nurses and this gives me a chance to connect with my heritage. In fact, I’m looking forward to meeting more international nurses in the weeks to come.

One of the parts of nursing I treasure and have always loved is clinical bedside nursing. To me this is where the miracle takes place. I value that special moment where I establish a connection with my patients. One of the joys that warms my heart is seeing my patients heal after taking care of them. It is a nice feeling to see them transcend from not feeling well to progressing through the health care continuum.

But there are challenging times, too. Serving our patients for more than 36 years gives me a sense of pride and gratitude. I give my dear mother a tribute because she inspired me to enter this noble profession in 1974. She was a nurse herself and I can remember vividly the dedication and commitment that she bestowed to her patients. When my mom came home from work, she might have look tired but peaceful, content and she still managed to take care of us.

My dad played a role in my coming to the United States because he trusted me to travel at a youthful age to another continent. I am also thankful to our dean, Sr. Veronica Origenes, O.S.B., and the professors and class adviser for all the teachings that they have imparted to us. I graduated from Divine Word University run by the Society of the Divine Word Fathers and the college of nursing was run by the Benedictine Sisters. It was tedious and arduous work that prepared me to meet the challenges of my role as well as the plethora of clinical experiences that I had gained working at St. Mary’s Hospital. The many mentors I had through the course of the years, I am grateful to them.

I am proudly in my second term of office as the President of the Philippine Nurses Association of Richmond, Va., and the Eastern Region Legislative representative of the Philippine Nurses Association of America. We have more than 4,500 members throughout the U.S. I am honored to be a member of a professional organization that provides me support, advocacy, educational and leadership opportunities, networking, collaboration and the importance of giving back to the community.

Celebrating the Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month means a lot to me because it highlights this special time and opportunity to reflect and embrace my identity as a Filipino. I came to the United States in 1983 and worked in Bon Secours Richmond Community Hospital as one of the Filipino nurses. I take pride in my Filipino heritage. It is such a great feeling to share with others where I am from. I love it when patients and their family members ask me where I am from and how long have I worked for St. Mary’s Hospital. I am so enthusiastic to tell them that I was born and raised in the Philippines and share with them the years of service at Bon Secours. They also react by saying, ‘That is wonderful! And that is dedication and loyalty to St. Mary’s.’ I love it!

Furthermore, AAPI Heritage Month is also recognizing the services of the many AAPI personnel who have taken an active role, dedication and commitment to serve in many facets of the workforce. It is also a way to honor their demanding work, struggles and courage of asserting themselves to forge and better themselves in attaining their goals based on their craft, gutsy spirit and arduous work. It is important to honor our ancestors who taught us our cultural traditions and I am forever grateful.

It is through diversity that our organization is enriched with talents whether it is sharing our culture, traditions, food, language, ideas, skills and uniqueness. What a beautiful world it is!”

Learn about our mission as well as the health care services we provide at Bon Secours.

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