by Vickie Jenkins, Staff Writer
From an early age, some people know exactly what they want to do when they grow up. They have a specific job in mind. That is the case for Makala Benson, BSN, RNC-NIC. Born and raised in Oklahoma City, OK, she knew that she wanted to help kids in a special way. She never took her focus off of that goal.
You will find Makala at Integris Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City, OK, working in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit where she has worked for the last seven years. “The NICU is such a specialized area of nursing and you either love it or hate it, and I definitely love it,” she said. “First of all, I am a nurse because I know that I am making a difference in others’ lives. I love babies and children and have never worked with any other age group. When people ask me for advice about a medical concern about themselves, I always give them the same answer, Sorry, I don’t do big people. Ask me anything about babies and I can help,” she said with a smile.
Makala attended OSU-OKC for her Associates Degree and became a registered nurse in 2000. “I graduated in 2018 with my bachelor’s degree in Nurse Science from Southwestern Oklahoma State University. It actually took a long time to convince myself that I should go back to school and get my bachelor’s degree, but I am glad I did,” Makala said.
Graduating in December of 2000, Makala was hired by Deaconess to start working for them in January. “I worked there for sixteen years. There was a brief period when I was working at both places, Integris Baptist Medical Center and Deaconess Hospital at the same time,” Makala commented. “I am also a Clinical Adjunct Professor for OSU-OKC where I help educate nursing students during their clinical rotations at the hospitals. I have been teaching for two years now and have loved doing a different aspect of nursing. I enjoy teaching the students all of the interesting things that nursing has to offer.”
Makala tells about her first job as a registered nurse at Deaconess Hospital Birth Center in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. “At the time, they told us in nursing school that we would have to work a minimum of one year on a med-surge floor before we would be able to work in any specialty area. Well, I knew that I wanted to work with babies and that I wouldn’t settle for anything else. So, I went and applied at Baptist Newborn Nursery, Baptist NICU and Deaconess NICU. Baptist wouldn’t take at the time because I didn’t have any experience. Deaconess on the other hand gave me a chance and they were willing to let me go straight into the NICU.”
“I always wanted to help kids in some way. My mother was a teacher and I thought that I would follow in her footsteps until one day; my grandma started telling me stories about how she was a Registered Nurse and worked in the newborn nursery with all the babies. I thought to myself, what an awesome job! You get to take care of babies all day! What better job could there be? That is when I knew for sure that I was going to take care of babies someday. I never gave it a second thought,” Makala said.
Asking Makala to describe herself, she replied, “I am a positive and passionate person, I am ambitious, enthusiastic, and driven. I am loving and thoughtful.” Makala was also honored to be chosen as Nurse of the Year for 2019-2020, along with being recognized as a Frontline Hero, 2020 on KFOR news.
How has the Coronavirus changed your life? “My life has slowed down regarding my family. My twelve year old daughter and nine year old son are both active in sports that had to be postponed. I have missed out on spending time with my friends and family, but I am a positive person and I look at it from a standpoint of being grateful. I am thankful that I am still able to work during the time and my husband has been able to work from home. Of course, there are extra precautions at work that every nurse has to take so they will not put anyone or their family members at risk.”
Summing up Makala’s life in one word, “Thankful,” she said.