Generational compassion: A mother-daughter duo helps heal patients at Norton Hospital

L. Maria and Ariana Ensley are a mother-daughter nursing duo helping change patients’ lives at Norton Hospital. Read their story.

For a mother, there’s always a dream to be a guiding light for her children. It’s a hope that she can show her daughter that she can surmount any obstacle, embrace her unique self and pursue 11 years, her work tools were scissors and combs as a hairdresser, bringing joy and confidence to her clients. But deep within her heart, she had a dream to care for people in a different way, to make a difference beyond the salon chair.

“I love working with people. I like making people feel happy, comfortable,” she said. “That’s why I did cosmetology. At the time, my kids were very little, and it was hard for me to go back to school, but when the opportunity came, I jumped on it because it was always my dream to become a nurse.”

She began working at Norton Healthcare in 2005 as a certified nursing assistant, and it only heightened her desire to become a nurse. Her journey into nursing, however, was not without challenges. She had to balance the demands of motherhood with the intensity of nursing school. Her ambition was fueled by her children and her passion to heal and comfort those in need. After a brief stint away, she returned to Norton Healthcare in 2016 as a registered nurse. She now cares for patients who are recovering from strokes, seizures and spine surgeries.

L. Maria Ensley, R.N., has been more than just a guiding light for daughter Ariana Ensley, R.N. Their story is not just about their dual in nursing at Norton Hospital; it’s about a legacy of compassion, passed down through generations, that shaped their lives both inside and outside the hospital.

Maria, a registered nurse with a warm smile and nurturing spirit, didn’t always wear scrubs.

“Doing this job, showing love and compassion, it makes me feel that I’m here for a purpose,” Maria said.

Ariana is a registered nurse who cares for heart patients. Along with her mother’s smile, she inherited a legacy of compassion that spans generations. From a young age, Ariana saw her mother’s dedication to nursing and her commitment to making a difference.

“Growing up, every time she came home from work, even if she had a hard day, she still said something positive about it,” Ariana said. “I remember thinking, ‘That’s what I need. A job where you can find the silver lining on a really hard shift.’”

With Maria as her guiding light, Ariana embarked on her own nursing journey, drawn to the field by a deep-seated desire to bring comfort to those in need.

“Sometimes with nursing, I feel like you don’t really choose it, it kind of chooses you. … And nursing definitely chose me,” Ariana said.

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The women’s different paths to nursing converged at the same hospital after Maria encouraged her daughter to join her.

“At Norton Hospital downtown, all my co-workers are like my family. So when [Ariana] graduated nursing school, I told her she had to come join me,” Maria said.

While they work in different units, they are constantly checking in on each other and working closely. Whether it’s a question or help with an IV, they are always there for each other. Their dynamic partnership spans their different generations and hospital floors.

“I think the coolest thing is that we ultimately chose different specialties,” said Ariana, who chose cardiology, while Maria’s specialty is neurology. “If we have any questions, we can go to each other for insight on those things.”

For them, nursing isn’t just a profession but a way of life, a testament to the values instilled in them by earlier generations.

“I grew up in a family with my mom who is very loving,” Maria said. “Seeing the heart that my mom had for other people, for other humans, it was instilled in us.”

Ariana also feels that her career choice is an extension of family tradition.

“My grandma [Maria’s mom] is literally a saint on this earth,” Ariana said. “I think that’s where our caring nature came from. I have a 2-year-old little girl, so now we have four generations, and we’ll make sure we keep it going.”

As mother and daughter, their relationship naturally extends beyond the hospital. They share laughter over family dinners, find solace in each other’s company, and cherish the simple joys of life.

Their story is not just about the remarkable nurses they are but a celebration of the bond between a mother and daughter. As they navigate the highs and lows of life, they find strength in each other’s presence, knowing that together, they can overcome any obstacle.

“As I’ve gotten older and become a mom myself, I don’t know what I would do without her,” Ariana said about her mom. “I wouldn’t be the person or the nurse I am today without her, and I feel so lucky to share a workplace with her.”

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