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News & Gallery


News | June 4, 2024

Walter Reed Medical Support Assistant Receives Values in Action Award

By James Black

When you first enter the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Walter Reed, you’ll likely be greeted by Shaa Nixon, a San Antonio, Texas native whose southern hospitality often puts patients and their families at ease as they await the birth of a newborn.

“We all battle with daily struggles, frustrations, and hardships,” shared Nixon, whose empathic way of connecting with families improves the morale of patients amid the organized chaos of bringing a new life into this world.

Nixon enjoys working as a medical support assistant at Walter Reed, where she greets patients, ensuring that service members and their families feel comfortable.

Values in Action Award: A Humbling Honor for a Dedicated Caretaker

In May, Nixon received a Values in Action award during a Director’s Town Hall in recognition of her patient-centered service and professionalism.

“To be recognized by fellow peers is an incredible honor and humbling,” said Nixon. “I am never one who likes to be celebrated or put in the limelight, although I love to bring joy, laughs, and smiles…”

Building connections with families, who rely on the staff at the NICU and creating small mementos for them to treasure, creates everlasting bonds said Nixon.

“I aspire to be that one person who can educate and bring forward awareness to someone who struggles through the health care system,” explained Nixon. “I have learned to advocate and help navigate and only wish to share with others who may need guidance.”

Nixon’s superpower, seemingly, relates to her innate ability to create a healing space by connecting with others with a comforting smile, and showing compassion for patients and their daily fights. “I enjoy being a part of the NICU Sunshine Committee,” shared Nixon, who takes pride in lifting her teammates‘ morale and celebrating the medical milestones of the hospital’s “tiniest warriors” during the holidays and on special occasions.

Faith and Family

Being a military spouse and mother has given Nixon a front row seat in connecting with the challenges of modern families. She’s a caregiver at heart but strives to create a space where she can renew her spirit and remain emotionally and physically resilient.

“My heroes are my mother, Michelle and my husband, Joshua,” confided Nixon, whose family fuels her optimistic spirit.

Nixon credits her mother for teaching her the value of taking a moment to reflect before making decisions, and problem-solving by breaking down challenging tasks into more manageable milestones. Making good use of “emotional intelligence” has paved the way for Nixon personally and professionally.

“My husband is a man of honor and integrity,” shared Nixon. "His strength and support are a “’force multiplier,’” helping Nixon remain resilient despite the fatigue and stress commonly associated with working in a hospital.

NICU: Providing Patient-Centered Care for Newborns and Their Families

Walter Reed’s NICU is designed to be a carefully controlled environment that helps newborns heal and grow. From physicians to medical support assistants, Walter Reed aims to involve parents and work with them as a team, empowering them to make informed decisions about their baby's care and treatment.

NICU research shows that patients heal better and faster when families are involved in their care, and Walter Reed provides parents with the overnight support that enables their children to grow and thrive.

Gratitude: A Mindset and a Call to Action

“I am thankful for the pure generosity and support the NICU nurses have shown me, and I’m grateful for the experiences [we’ve shared],” confided Nixon. “No matter the situation or job role, we are a team and united we stand.”
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