Celebrating our Fab 50 Nurses: Damiana Cohen

Damiana CohenDamiana Cohen, manager of the Mother Baby and Women’s Care Units at Tucson Medical Center took an interest in birth when she was 12 and happened upon a book about midwifery.

The road to nursing didn’t come right after high school though; she took a non-traditional path and along the way collected a number of experiences, from three years of college, to travel in South America, to driving a school bus and waiting tables.

But she never lost that fascination with the stories of birth, and she went to school to become a licensed midwife, ultimately spending more than 12 years with families who wanted to have birth experiences at home.

When it was time for a new chapter, Cohen went to nursing school – a decision she’s never regretted because of the experiences that unfolded from there, from working with marginalized populations to teenagers finding their way in the world.

Cohen spent 12 years working as a forensic nurse performing post-sexual assault exams and on that time she reflects, “That really and truly was my passion. Not always, but a lot of times, it’s the marginalized people in a society who are victimized. And in some ways, it was a bit like being a midwife, because you’re there with somebody, one-on-one, helping them through this very intense situation. It’s smart, autonomous nursing, it’s scientific, it’s about human rights and a person’s dignity – and I would go home and feel like I really impacted someone’s life.”

Cohen spent three years working as a school nurse with pregnant and parenting teenagers. “Hardly any of them had a parent figure in their lives, so I could be that presence to tell them what so few had a chance to hear: That they mattered and I cared. I wanted them to be empowered to be parents while still having their lives and finishing their education.” She still connects from time to time with some of those students; many of whom were inspired to become nurses.

“I think I’ve enjoyed my nursing career because I’ve done so many different things,” Cohen said. “Life has offered me opportunities that I haven’t foreseen. And I’ve always believed that when something comes your way, it’s good to reflect on what the universe is offering you and take a moment to listen.”

Just as she’s had many careers, she has many facets outside of work – a mom to her sons, now 25 and 29, a runner, a hiker, an organic gardener, a film fanatic, a reader, a cat lover, a supporter of women and equality, a birdwatcher and nature lover, a lifelong learner, a traveler, a thinker, a seeker, and a sister and a friend.

And through all that, her underlying motto is, “Be a good human.”

“I find that when I do that, everything else seems to fall into place.”

Tucson Nurses Week Foundation recognizes, publicizes, and supports the accomplishments, innovations, and contributions of nurses to the health of our community by honoring 50 outstanding nurses as the Fabulous 50. Well done Damiana on being nominated and recognized as one of Tucson’s Fab 50.

 

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