by Mike Lee
As the host of the online radio show Ask MomRN, Tamara Walker’s patients are people she will likely never meet.
But the nurse of more than 20 years still feels like her Oklahoma City-based show fulfills the mission she trained for at Oklahoma Baptist University years ago.
“I consider what I’m doing to be non-traditional nursing,” Walker said. “I’m still able to use a lot of my nursing experience in order to share important information, advice and support.
“The things that I learned in nursing school and as a nurse have all combined to start this platform.”
When Tamara Walker chose a nursing career, she never expected it would lead her to her own radio show, to appearances in local and national media, or to a spot as a child health expert on The Rachael Ray Show.
In fact, her motivation for becoming a nurse was much simpler: a desire to provide the same type of care for others that she received as a child.
Walker wears an artificial leg because of a birth defect, and at age 15 underwent hip surgery.
Pediatrics was a natural draw for her.
Walker worked in pediatrics at Baptist Medical Center for three years, and like most nurses, found one of her biggest challenges was finding enough time to care for all of her patients.
Working with an artificial leg was also challenging, especially after spending several hours on her feet.
So she left full-time nursing in 1994 to raise her children. She also started a childcare business, and her combination of nursing experience and knowledge of children’s health and development made her the person friends and family came to for answers.
So why not use that knowledge on a broader scale?
Walker launched MomRN.com in 2001, with the mission statement practical advice for raising a happy, health family.
A few years later she offered to act as a resource for a local radio station that needed parenting information for its lunchtime programming. Walker never expected to be put on the air, but was offered a radio show that lasted until the station changed ownership and switched formats two years later.
Walker took her show to BlogTalkRadio in April 2008 where it remains today.
Her listeners range in number from 2,500 to 3,500 each show and she’s seen spikes of up to 10,000 listeners depending on the topic.
This year was the first time she took a summer break but her show resumes at the end of August.
Walker’s radio show has hosted experts and celebrities like Kathy Ireland, Kirk Cameron, Lucy Liu, Tom Arnold, Nancy O’Dell, Niecy Nash and Dr. Ian Smith from VH1’s Celebrity Fit Club.
Listeners will commonly call or email their basic health concerns they are having with their children.
When is a child sick enough to go to the doctor?
What’s this rash caused by?
What are the symptoms of an ear infection.
Are immunizations safe?
The last question has been a big one the past few years with vaccines making headlines worldwide.
Walker is careful with her responses, knowing that she sometimes may not have all the information.
“I feel like vaccines are really something parents need to educate themselves on,” said Walker, who is pro-vaccine. “Unfortunately, there is so much misinformation out there on the Internet. It’s hard for parents to know who to trust. They really need to talk with the family physician and pediatrician about which vaccines they feel comfortable with and know why they’re choosing them.”
Walker teaches children and teens how to protect themselves through her MomRN Safe Kids and MomRN Safe Teens classes.
Her method differs from others in its approach.
Her emphasis is not only on keeping kids safe, but on preparing them to go out into the world with confidence rather than fear. She does this by teaching kids the warning signs they need to look out for in a person’s behavior, and training them to focus on the person’s actions and how they make them feel, rather than on if the person is a stranger or someone they know well.
Walker says she hopes to do more speaking engagements in the next few years and possibly write a book.
This January, Walker took on another role: empty nester.
With her youngest of two moving out, Walker experienced the role for the first time.
“It’s been good,” she said. “They’re still close by and we see them frequently. I thought I would always be one of those moms that couldn’t stand when their kids move out but we had time to prepare so it’s been good.”
But if the last couple of decades have proven anything it’s that this nurse is anything but typical.