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James’ mentors influenced her to choose path of nursing

Submitted photo Ciera James works as an OB nurse at the Family Birthing Center at Davis Medical Center in Elkins.

Editor’s Note: This is the sixth in a week-long series of National Nurses Week articles.

ELKINS — Seeing how much nurses meant to her younger brother when she was just a child made a lasting impression on Ciera James and inevitably led her to the career path she has chosen for herself.

“From the time we found out my brother Steven had cancer when he was 7 years old, I wanted to be a nurse,” James told The Inter-Mountain. “I just remember him talking about how much he loved his nurses and how great they were to him. So I knew I wanted to be able to provide that to people. I loved the relationship he had with his nurses.”

Since then, James went off to college and graduated from Alderson-Broaddus College in 2008. She has now been a nurse for the past 14 years. Her brother, meanwhile, received a stem cell transplant 17 years ago and is now cancer-free.

After spending a year working on the medical/surgical unit at Davis Medical Center, James changed jobs and became an OB nurse in 2009. She continues to be an OB nurse to this day and currently works for the Family Birthing Center at DMC.

“It’s a blessing to be with a woman during the most vulnerable time of her life,” James said. “But to also experience such strengths that women go through in order to grow their family, is something special. I just love giving support to everyone involved in the birthing process.”

James said that her aunt Kathy Gassanola, and her first boss, Peggy Thorne-Church, were influential in her getting into and thriving in the nursing profession. She watched both serve as health care workers when she was young.

“My aunt now works in women’s health care, so she takes care of the women prior to them coming to me in labor, so I get to see her at work all the time,” she said. “Peggy is the one who, when she was my boss at the time, urged me to do med-surge before moving to OB. I was not really wanting to do that, but doing it for one year made me a whole lot stronger as an OB nurse.”

Dealing with out of the ordinary circumstances was something all nurses were put through while the COVID-19 pandemic was at its height. James said the tough part about being an OB nurse during that time was having to watch other family members be left out during the birthing process.

“The biggest thing that we dealt with was all of the changes, the biggest thing being that our laboring patients were only allowed to have one person for support,” she said. “Not having their parents or another friend there for support was tough.”

James and her husband Daniel, who reside in Beverly, have four children — Ian (18), Ryan (11), Lillian (8) and Ellie (1 1/2).

“I will work in nursing until I’m not able to work any longer,” James said. “I feel that it’s my calling.”

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