From Police Officer to Nurse
University Hospital Nurse Recalls Father’s Death in Accepting Award
(Newark, NJ) – When Clara Memba, RN, of Bloomfield headed to an 8:30 a.m. nursing meeting after her overnight shift at UMDNJ-The University Hospital on February 4, she thought the meeting would focus on patient satisfaction.
Instead, James R. Gonzalez, MPH, FACHE, the hospital’s president and chief executive officer ; Theresa Rejrat, RN, MA, its vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer; and several of Memba’s colleagues were waiting at the “meeting” to present her with the Daisy Award—a prestigious nursing award.
“I am truly honored, proud and blessed to have such a warm, sincere and compassionate nurse, Clara Memba, as part of the University Hospital family,” said Jennifer Smith, RN, BSN, MSN, the hospital’s acting medical-surgical director who nominated Memba for the honor and spoke during the surprise award presentation. “She has always provided the highest standards of care to patients and their families while displaying acts of kindness and empathy.”
The DAISY Award is a national nursing excellence recognition program used by more than 1,200 hospitals across the country. It recognizes nurses who give compassionate bedside care and regularly demonstrate superhuman tasks that nurses are expected to perform each day. DAISY Award recipients are nominated by their peers, patients or families. They are selected by their peers, and UMDNJ-The University Hospital Hospital presents the award to a total of six nurses annually on a bi-monthly basis.
“We are very lucky to have you here,” Gonzalez told Memba during the presentation.
Smith noted that Memba has been a nurse at UMDNJ-The University Hospital Hospital for nearly 10 years. She was nominated for the Daisy Award based on her extraordinary care of and compassion for a dying patient who desperately wanted to visit family in Africa one last time. The patient, however, lacked the financial means to do so.
Moved tremendously, Memba worked with the patient’s friends and church to raise money to send the patient to Africa. The patient died shortly after arriving there.
Memba, who nearly left the room in shock after realizing that she was being presented with an award, said that witnessing her father’s sickness and subsequent death in 1989 motivated her to become a nurse. Until that time, she had been a police officer in her native Cameroon but made the career change to honor her father and to help heal the sick.
Since immigrating to the United States 16 years ago, Memba has earned a registered nurse degree from Bergen Community College and is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from Jersey City State University.
“I try to do my job to the best of my ability every day that I step into this hospital,” she said through tears while accepting the award and talking about her father.
During the award presentation, Memba received a leather-bound DAISY Award certificate, a lapel pin, a unique hand-carved stone sculpture from Zimbabwe entitled “A Healers Touch,” and a bouquet of daisies. In addition, she will be featured on the DAISY Award Foundation’s website. The unit where she works,
F-Yellow (surgical), shared in her award winnings by having cinnamon rolls supplied for the unit by Cinnabon after the presentation.
Created in 2000, the DAISY Foundation was established by the family of J. Patrick Barnes, who died at age 33 of Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP), an autoimmune disease. The DAISY Award – an acronym for Diseases Attacking the Immune System – was designed by the Barnes family to honor and recognize the compassion and clinical skills of the nurses who cared for him.
Clara Memba, RN, (center) was nominated for the Daisy Award by UMDNJ-The University Hospital Hospital acting medical-surgical director, Jennifer Smith, RN, BSN, MSN, (l). Memba was recognized by James R. Gonzalez, MPH, FACHE, president and CEO (interim) (r) during the award presentation.
To view additional photos from the award presentation, please visit:
The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) is New Jersey’s only health sciences university with more than 6,000 students on five campuses attending three medical schools, the State’s only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and New Jersey’s only school of public health. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, which provides a continuum of healthcare services with multiple locations throughout the State.
UMDNJ-The University Hospital Hospital is one of the United States' premier university medical centers and the principal teaching hospital for University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ)-New Jersey Medical School (NJMS). Located in the Central Ward of Newark, the hospital offers the highest quality of care across many medical specialties.