Nurse Ashley is a cardiac surgery nurse who works in Boston, Massachusetts. She has been a nurse for 5 years, is happily married to her Husband Andrew, has a one year old son named Dylan and is the proud mother of a dog (Lexi), two cats (Parsley and Basil) and countless fish.
What does it take to be a nurse and what led you to nursing?
Ashley: My personal belief is that nursing is a calling. I don't think it's for everybody. Your heart and soul really have to be in it and being able to be empathetic on a daily basis is a must. A lot of people are sympathetic, but I think it's harder to be empathetic. Nurses have to be very hard workers because it's a serious job. You have your patients' health in your hands. I work for cardiac surgery and we really have to keep on top of our work to make sure that our parents are healthy and stay healthy after their operations. My grandmother was a nurse for about 45 years and my aunt is a nurse as well. They are my personal heroes and inspired me to become a nurse myself.
What has your journey to nursing been like?
Ashley: Currently, I work in Boston. I work for a step-down cardiac unit. I work with patients who have had a heart transplant, coronary artery bypass surgery, valve surgery, etc.
I was pretty motivated as a young nurse. About 15 years ago, I never thought that I could be a nurse. I looked to my grandmother and I looked at my aunt - both of them are the most intelligent and inspiring people I've ever known, and both are nurses. I always thought, “How could I live up to them?”
So, I went to school to be a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist. When I sat in those classes, however, I was bored and fidgety. I needed to be active, and I wanted to have an impact on more people.
That is when I finally decided to bite the bullet and become a nurse. I figured, if I don't make it, I don't make it; but I was determined to try. I researched how to get into the field and quickly got my CNA license. I sent in about 150 applications to work at a Boston Hospital and finally landed an interview. The rest is history. I have been on this same floor ever since.
How did you first get involved with Moxie Scrubs?
Ashley: It was really a Godsend. Back in 2019, I was out with a friend who was working at another hospital in Boston. We did one of those Uber ride shares to save about three bucks. Our Uber picked up Alicia. My friend and I were chatting and I did not want Alicia to feel left out so I started chatting with her too, a complete stranger at the time. She actually turned to us and said, “So where are you guys from?” My friend and I looked over at each other and told her we were from here - Boston. Alicia later said that we were so friendly, she thought we were tourists! She shared with us that she was starting to build a brand for healthcare workers, nurses specifically. When she found out we were nurses, we exchanged numbers. I never thought it would go anywhere. What are the chances? We ended up talking so many times over that week, though, and I realized how serious, and well-equipped, Alicia was to listen and support nurses like myself. We formed a quick friendship, as she values the thoughts, feelings, and insights that nurses have and our products reflect that collaboration.
What was the process like to design the Ashley Top?
Ashley: It was a lot of fun. Alicia had a great idea that she wanted nurses to actually help develop their own scrubs to have as much input into the product as possible. We wanted them to be more form-fitted, have more pockets, and be made out of a buttery-soft material. Stephanie and Justine, who are my close nursing friends, came on board as well. We now all have a Moxie Scrubs piece that we helped design, named after us. The three of us sat in a room and pulled out some scrub brands that we were wearing at the time. We noted what we liked and what wasn't working. One thing in my sketches that was absolutely crucial was to not have such a boxy-looking scrub top. I wanted to design a top that allowed nurses to be fashionable, comfortable, and professional all at the same time.
I also tried to add a little flare too! We wear scrubs day in and day out. We need to feel good about what we're wearing. I asked for a fun sleeve design, which we were able to do. Different kinds of pockets were put in place and a beautiful neckline, as well. I continue to come up with new and innovative design features and the Moxie crew has been nothing but welcoming to all of my crazy ideas. This is a company that is excited to push the envelope and give the nurse a highly functional product without sparing its flexibility and comfort. I am proud to give my voice to this brand.
You went through a few designs to get everything perfect. What was it like when you put on the finalized Ashley Top for the first time?
Ashley: I just squealed all around my house in delight! I was so excited! I ran downstairs and showed my husband. I posed for him until finally he said, “Okay, you can stop now.” They were honestly the most comfortable scrubs I have personally ever worn. It's funny, some of my friends actually asked me for these scrubs… and they're not medical professionals at all! They like the materials so much that they want to sleep in them!
What is it like when you see somebody else in The Ashley Top?
Ashley: I don't know if it will ever hit me that I could make an impact like this on other nurses. When I see other nurses in the top that I designed, I feel good about it and I'm proud. I'm proud because when I see them wearing the top, I don't have to question if they like the product. I already know.
When people think about scrubs, they think of boxy material with no outline of your shape. But, when people think about nurses, they think about the sexy nurse, right? They have a Halloween kind of vision about what a nurse should look like, small dresses and all. Either vision is polarizing and decreases the value that we bring to society. There really was a strong need for not just the professional look, but the functionality. We have a patent pending waistline that keeps pants secure in any position. We have different kinds and sizes of pockets. We have stretch. The material is wrinkle resistant. So again, I am proud to see others wear my product.
Is there one moment in particular when you just knew that being a nurse was your calling?
Ashley: No one's asked me that before. It's a special question because when we see our patients and their family, it is at some of the lowest and most vulnerable times in their entire life. When they see the doctor they can get so overwhelmed, because the Doctors have many patients to see and often cannot spend a lot of time with them. The Doctors do a great job at my hospital, but the person that's next to the patient, for 8 or 12 hours, is me, their nurse. I'm the one that protects their heart, their health, and their mental wellbeing while the doctor isn't there.
I might cry thinking about this. There was a patient who seemed to be doing well.. it was an all around normal day when all of a sudden I heard the telemetry crisis alarm, looked up and the patients heart had flat lined. It was just a straight line. The wife came outside his room at that moment and all of our staff started running towards his room. Everybody else got there before me and so when I saw his wife in the hall, shaking and stunned, I just gave her a hug and held her shoulders. She seemed to search my face for answers and reassurance without the strength to ask. I reassured her and kept her informed of everything that was happening. I was there that day to guide this woman through this crisis. Thankfully, the patient's heart spontaneously restarted after a very long pause. Though I was not the nurse that day who grabbed the code cart first, started compressions, or grabbed medications, I realized that as a nurse, just by me being present, being a beacon of trust and hope, I made a difference. I made an impact. The wife did not know me by name but she knew what my uniform meant and she trusted me. I have helped save countless lives since then but I'll never forget the trust instilled in me that day from this patients wife.
Bullying is a problem in the healthcare community, can you speak to that?
Ashley: People do degrade nurses and it seems to be a growing trend. Bullying is a problem everywhere and we need to get to the root of the cause as a society. It shouldn't take what you're wearing to convey that you should be respected. Unfortunately in the world that we live in, it helps. By wearing Moxie Scrubs, I am better able to distinguish myself from other healthcare professions. In nursing, we went from wearing a nursing cap and a dress, to trying to look just like doctors, but this is our own profession, and it has its unique challenges. Bullying and talking down to nurses from patients' families and even co-workers is the unfortunate reality of our world.
What do you do to prevent burn out?
Ashley: It's very easy to get burned out. It's a growing process for me to practice self-care and I think I can get better at it. When I first started out, I would just try and jam pack my day with everything I could possibly do. But what you have to remember is that nursing is a 24/7 job. You can't get everything done in one shift and it's okay to ask the next shift to complete tasks that you just simply couldn't get to. You owe it to yourself and you also owe it to your patients because chances are the next day you're going back. If you stay an hour or two late it will start to wear on you. I am 100% guilty of this and I'm actively trying to work on being better. The best thing you can do for yourself is setting boundaries.
What gives you Moxie?
Moxie is the drive and strength you have to do what nurses do every day. I get my moxie from my goal of happiness for my patients. When you think about it, the reason why we care about the health of our bodies is to pursue a life that makes us FEEL alive, curious, able to pursue our dreams, and be present for all the little joys that make life worthwhile. In my work, we often help extend the lives of our chronic patients and if we can't, we still strive to give them the encouragement and compassion that they need, that all of us need. I help give people the power to live happier lives through the health of their body and mind. It is just as important for me to give an antibiotic as it is to listen and comfort, or laugh with and encourage. I believe happiness is the most important thing in life and my goal everyday is for others to feel appreciated and cared about. This gives me Moxie.