Greater Baltimore Medical Center
"Candy Striper Turned Nurse"

Nell Baumiller's Story

GBMC introduced me to what would turn out to be my life-long nursing career. I was one of GBMC’s first Candy Stripers.

In the third grade, we learned the anatomy of the ear and I was hooked; I knew I wanted to do something in the medical field. In 1965, when GBMC opened in my neighborhood of Towson, it was my early opportunity to get involved. I started as a GBMC Candy Striper in March of 1966, despite my parents’ warning that I wouldn’t like it. All excited, my first day turned out to be horrible.

Among the many overwhelming firsts I experienced on Unit 41, I was asked to make beds. The hospital was so new, there was no Candy Striper course on how to make hospital beds…Who knew the beds corners had to be squared?! Additionally, I had to watch someone receive blood, something that was tough for me. I thought I’d never go back. I did return, though, and got assigned to Pediatrics, which had Hopkins residents covering the unit, and had such a wonderful experience that I never regretted my return.

The nurses in Pediatrics became mentors to me, allowing me to do more than the traditional Candy Striper activities. They challenged me to learn the gamut of diseases, take vital signs, and treated me to other introductions into the world of nursing. I went on coffee breaks with the staff and learned to drink coffee black so I looked like I belonged. I remember that although GBMC was less than half the size it is now, I still managed to get lost; I only found my way by walking out the back of the hospital and re-entering around the front. As a result of this experience as an early Candy Striper, I knew I’d become a nurse.

I went to nursing school at St. Joseph’s, then received my degree from St. Joseph college, started my nursing career at Johns Hopkins, and then returned to GMBC in 1979. Among my many areas of practice at GBMC, I managed the clinics at the Presbyterian Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital and worked in numerous GBMC departments including the ENT Clinic, Diversified Home Care’s Quality Department, and various areas of adult medicine. While at the ENT clinic, I created a coloring book so children and their families would learn about PRE/PST of ENT care prior to having surgery at GBMC. At GBMC’s Baltimore Street Clinic, I was part of the team which authored the $250,000 Family Center Grant. I also authored a Susan G. Komen grant through which we were able to provide breast cancer screenings for many women from local underserved communities.

Overall, I feel grateful for all the opportunities, knowledge and skills offered by GBMC and Gilchrist. I was able to work with many of the people who had worked at GBMC’s predecessors – the Presbyterian ENT Hospital and Women’s Hospital. I’m glad to have stayed in touch with many of the staff members who were mentors and co-workers along the way. I am proud that I have been able to do many different things, to be a jack-of-all-trades, in helping patients, families and staff. The lasting memories of all the relationships that I have developed with all of those people continue to give me great satisfaction and pleasure.

Based on my experience with GBMC homecare, I chose to embrace the hospice philosophy and transfer to Gilchrist in January 1996. Since then, I have happily worked with Gilchrist patients, families and Gilchrist staff in just about every nursing capacity, from homecare and team management to staff mentoring and quality supervision. In 2000, I became a Certified Hospice and Palliative Care nurse.

To sum it up, because of GBMC and Gilchrist, I am fortunate to have a professionally satisfying and wide-ranging nursing career, and am most pleased to be able to make a difference in the lives of patients, families and staff. I have stayed in touch and developed meaningful friendships with mentors from my Candy Striper days, as well as many of the staff members from all the stops in my GBMC/Gilchrist career.

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