25, No. 10, Nov. 17, 2005
the job: Sheila Maxwell
Jennifer Dahm, News Bureau Student Intern
photo to enlarge
by L. Brian Stauffer
has been a nursepractitioner at McKinley Health Center
since 1995. Maxwell enjoys teaching students to be
good stewards of their health.
has been a nurse practitioner at McKinley Health Center since 1995.
She grew up in the rural Champaign area and is the oldest of nine children.
After her initial undergraduate work at the University of Wisconsin
and the birth of her two children, she thought it was time to pursue
her true career interest. Maxwell went back to school and earned an
associate degree in nursing from Olney Junior College, a bachelor’s
degree in nursing from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville,
and a master’s degree from UIC. Previously working in hospitals,
clinics and schools, Maxwell now enjoys her duties as a women’s
health nurse practitioner and ob-gyn sonographer for the Women’s
Health Clinic at McKinley Health Center.
Did you always want to be a nurse practitioner?
No, I wouldn’t say always. I knew when I married that I wanted
eventually go back to school. I just didn’t know what I wanted
to do. After we had our first child, I thought, well this is so neat.
I want to keep doing this. As the oldest of nine children, I knew I
didn’t want to have or raise nine children. I chose to go to nursing
school so I could be an obstetrical nurse. Additionally, nursing is
a very flexible degree that works well with having a family.
What kind of work did you do before
I was as an obstetrical nurse for the maternity department of St. Anthony
Hospital in Effingham for 20 years. The last eight years of that time
I also worked full time at Marshall Clinic as a nurse, surgical assistant
and sonographer at an obstetrician/gynecologist’s office. In 1992,
I returned to school to become a nurse practitioner because I was frustrated
with my job as an office nurse. I decided I was either going to return
to college to get my degree as an advanced practice nurse or return
to the hospital full time. I thought that if I were going to earn an
advanced degree, I should get on with it, because I wasn’t getting
I have been happy that I returned to graduate school. I am credentialed
as a ultrasonographer, a women’s health nurse practitioner and
a certified nurse midwife (although I am not employed as a midwife).
My favorite job was being an obstetricial nurse, but there comes a time
in your life when staying up all kinds of crazy hours is not as easy.
Working as a nurse practitioner at McKinley Health Center is a very
rewarding and satisfying career.
What is your favorite part of working
The students are very stimulating. They come from a large variety of
cultures and geographical locations, and they are very motivated to
be healthy. Someone comes in with a problem and she gives you her piece
of the puzzle. I give her more pieces. And then, doing an exam and further
diagnostic tests, I can usually figure out the answer, but sometimes
I refer her to another health-care provider. I enjoy teaching my patients
to be good owners of their bodies and stewards of their own health.
That is the most gratifying and challenging part of this job. I think
that all of us at Women’s Health (Clinic) really like taking care
of young women.
What kind of activities do you enjoy
in your free time?
My husband and I have large extended families that take up a very big
piece of our free time even though our own children are grown. There’s
not a week that goes by that doesn’t involve something with family.
I also have two cats that require – and I enjoy – giving
a lot of my time to. I love to read and usually take in two or three
books a week. I like to walk. My husband and I enjoy traveling when
we have free time. I also like to cook recipes that I can be a little
creative with. I like all kinds of music but especially traditional
Irish folk music.
What would you say is the one most important thing someone can do for
his or her health?
Take care of it. You have two very important commodities – your
brain and your health. One may have a wonderful education and many material
possessions, but if you don’t take good care of yourself and lose
your health, then everything else you do is either not going to matter
or become much less satisfying.