Meet #MoxieNurse Samantha Roeker, RN and marathon runner, who is running the Boston Marathon on April 18th in Moxie Scrubs! She aims to raise money and awareness about mental health for healthcare workers through the American Nurses Foundation.
Sam qualified for the Olympic Trials in 2020. She is set to break the world record for the fastest marathon wearing a nurse’s uniform!
Sam is a nurse in Philadelphia at the department of Otorhinolaryngology in the University of Pennsylvania Hospital. She is also studying to become a nurse practitioner U Penn.
What was your inspiration to run the Boston Marathon in scrubs and how did you choose Moxie?
Samantha: I have a lot of friends, myself included, who have struggled mentally with everything going on over the last two years in healthcare. A woman ran a marathon in her nurse's uniform a couple years ago in scrubs and she broke the world record. The Guinness Book of World Records denied her claim because it wasn't a traditional nurse's outfit, which was apparently the white dress and hat that has ultimately become a Halloween costume. I believe that it was ratified after nurses and runners came together to contest it.
I thought I could run the marathon wearing scrubs, and use that as a platform to try to raise money for nurses’ mental health. I had difficulty finding platforms, and honestly, that kind of fired me up to do this even more. There's not much support out there for the mental health of our healthcare workers, which is wild considering everything that's going on right now.
Fortunately, the American Nurses Foundation has a specific well-being initiative that works to support nurses' mental health and well-being in the United States. They have various programs, apps, classes, financial resources, and grief counseling, which is wonderful and it’s exactly what I was looking for.
They were on board with my idea, and they connected me with Moxie. I immediately was like “Yes!” This is exactly the company that I want to work with! I'm all about comfortable scrubs, I would wear the joggers all day everyday. They are wonderful, athletic and breathable. I love small startups who have a great mission and support nurses. It came together so quickly.
What similarities do nurses and distance runners share?
Samantha: With long distance running you have to be really mentally tough and block out a lot of other things, and just focus on the task ahead. The same goes for nursing. There's a lot of multitasking that has to be done but it's not going to work unless you really just look at that exact thing right in front of you that needs to happen in that moment and prioritize. There are so many similarities between the two.
How do you balance training with working 10-hour shifts and studying to be a nurse practitioner?
Samantha: It’s hard to train at a really high level with all of the things that I have going on. This marathon is really more about the cause that I'm trying to raise awareness around. I'm definitely not my fittest or fastest. I have tried to balance being the best runner I can be, and also a full-time nurse, and student, and it's really tricky. It’s a lot of time management, a lot of focusing on the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m very careful about how I spend my time, and managing my emotions as well. Sometimes that means taking a step back and asking what's important today? It's a lot of early mornings and late nights, not a lot of sleep, and a lot of stress. I don't want to paint a picture that it’s easy. But, I hope it'll all be worth it.
My clinical placement right now is 20 hours in the emergency room. I really see the system failure in the ED, and it's tough to process, especially as a student knowing this is what I’ve decided to dedicate my career to. I've considered leaving like so many people and doing something else, but I'm committed and I want to see it through.
What drives your passion for the future of nursing?
Samantha: Nurses are leaving the profession right and left. That is obviously terrible for us, but it's terrible for the rest of the US population.
A nurse in Tennessee was just charged with negligent homicide because she pulled the wrong medication and unfortunately the patient died. That is a terrible tragedy from human error, but can we take a step back and look at the system that is supporting this person that made this error? With short staffing and lack of support, this is going to happen more and more. Nurses are afraid, our licenses are on the line every day.
A nurse manager in a hospital in New York, devastatingly committed suicide on a shift. There’s just so much happening. It’s tragic. People are so quick to be like, “thoughts and prayers and thank you so much,” and calling us healthcare heroes, but really what are we doing?
My biggest fear going into this was that it is a serious platform that I'm going to be using, and a really sensitive topic. I was very nervous to be speaking about it. I just fell into this in the past month. I never knew it was something I was so passionate about. I honestly didn't feel very qualified. But, I know I am, and I can represent a lot of my friends who have struggled even more than I have.
I just want to do it in an educated, open and honest way. That's what I hope more people do, because something has to change here. Hopefully people will continue to speak out and maybe we can change the system before it goes completely off a cliff in the next couple years.
All of us at Moxie are cheering you on and wishing you luck!
We really couldn’t be more honored that you’re wearing Moxie Scrubs for this and that we get to be a part of your mission to build awareness around nurse’s mental health.
About the Author:
Lauren Rivera is a nationally certified neonatal intensive care nurse. She serves as a nurse expert offering support and educational classes for women and their families from preconception through childhood. Lauren is also a freelance nurse writer with works published on several nursing sites. She develops and curates content for various health care companies, and writes continuing education modules for other healthcare professionals.