The Most Trusted Profession

Lynne Young, Clarence T.C. Ching Heart Center at Straub Benioff Medical Center; Scott Ninomiya, Kapi‘olani Medical Center for Women & Children; Joanna Nishimura, Wilcox Medical Center; Ralf Banatao, Pali Momi Medical Center; and Shereen Peahi, Straub Benioff Medical Center. Photo by Lawrence Tabudlo

For 21 consecutive years, nursing has held the top spot as the most trusted profession in the United States, according to an annual Gallup poll.

Nurses are an integral part of a health care team. Their list of duties goes far beyond just checking vital signs and giving injections. They also go in and out of patient rooms, educating patients, advocating for patients and encouraging healthy lifestyles. Whether it’s at the hospital, clinic or care home, a nurse’s role is invaluable.

The nurses at Hawai‘i Pacific Health work hard each and every day. To acknowledge the devotion of these individuals and celebrate National Nurses Week (May 6-12), MidWeek is presenting the following profiles of five nurses who represent nursing teams across HPH’s medical centers and clinics.

Meet Shereen Peahi of Straub Benioff Medical Center, Ralf Edward Banatao of Pali Momi Medical Center, Lynne Young of the Clarence T.C. Ching Heart Center at Straub Benioff Medical Center, Scott Ninomiya of Kapiʻolani Medical Center for Women & Children and Joanna Nishimura of Wilcox Medical Center on Kauaʻi.

Rising to the Challenge

Shereen Peahi always knew she wanted to pursue a career that was both challenging and meaningful. Immediately after graduating from Kamehameha Schools, she put in the work and earned her nursing degree from Hawai‘i Pacific University in 2018.

“It wasn’t always easy. I had a full-time job while attending nursing school, so I quickly learned the importance of good time management,” Peahi says.

That particular skill was especially helpful when Peahi’s career began at Straub Benioff.

“I enjoyed the fast-paced environment of the emergency department,” Peahi says. “Although unpredictable at times, I knew working in the emergency department would challenge me to continually grow and learn.”

She’s quick to note that she loves her job, adding, “Being able to work at Straub Benioff has allowed me to make a meaningful contribution in the place I grew up — Hawai‘i.”

When Peahi is not serving the community at Straub Benioff, she enjoys spending her time outdoors, saying that her days off usually consist of hiking, going to the beach or relaxing with her partner at home in Kailua.

Peahi has deep gratitude for those who have supported her in her journey as a nurse.

“From nursing clinical instructors to my preceptors who guided me as a new graduate, and my peers today — I’ve had the privilege of working with so many great nurses,” Peahi says.

To those who aspire to become a nurse, Peahi offers the following advice: “Becoming a nurse has been the most challenging yet rewarding experience of my life,” Peahi says. “For those who are beginning their career in nursing, I would tell them to never lose sight of why you became a nurse. There will be hard days, but always keep true to your values and remember to love what you do.”

Mentoring Others

Ralf Edward Banatao’s journey to becoming a nurse is one that is dear to his heart. While growing up in the Philippines, his oldest sister died from kidney failure. Despite the hospital’s lack of medical equipment and supplies, Banatao saw how his sister’s doctors and nurses worked together to help her the best they could.

“The empathy and caring gestures of her nurses opened my eyes to the world of nursing,” Banatao shares. “I am passionate about connecting with people, and finding ways to positively impact the lives of those in need so they can receive the care they deserve and need to live healthier.”

His family moved to Hawai‘i 20 years ago and Banatao has been with Pali Momi since 2009. He currently serves as a charge nurse and assists patients preparing for or recovering from surgery. Not only does Banatao oversee patient care, he also coordinates and oversees nurses working during his shift.

“It inspires me when I see our patients recover from illness or injury, and leave the medical center in better health than when they were admitted,” Banatao says. “It is so fulfilling to be a part of their recovery process by providing quality care. I also enjoy mentoring and training new nurses and seeing them doing so well on their own.

“My favorite part of my job as a charge nurse is rounding on — or checking in with — our patients every day,” Banatao continues. “I also enjoy being able to empower them with information about their diagnosis and available resources they can utilize after they are discharged.”

Banatao notes that it takes a lot of patience and determination to become a nurse but encourages those interested in this field to persevere.

“You need to have a caring heart and tons of empathy,” Banatao says. “It is a financially rewarding job, but you have to work hard and put your heart in it.”

Forming Strong Relationships

Lynne Young graduated from Hawai‘i Pacific University in 2007. She recalls how nursing school taught her how bodies function, how medications work and other technical topics. When she started working in the field, she was excited to put her skills to the test.

“You develop and fine tune critical thinking and begin seeing the overall picture of your patient,” Young says. “This is what makes me passionate about my profession. It’s seeing patients beyond their diagnoses as human beings — like your parents, siblings and friends — whom you are helping to get better physically and often mentally.”

Young has worked at Straub Benioff Medical Center for quite some time — 19 years to be exact. She started off as a nurse aide before becoming a registered nurse.

“I personally enjoy getting to talk story with my patients, their families and/or friends,” Young shares. “The idea of open-heart surgery can feel scary and overwhelming, which is why I like to find ways to help people feel at ease throughout the process. Even though the days can get busy with constant consultations, follow-ups, messages, phone calls, scheduling and prepping of charts, it’s important to take my time to establish this relationship with my patients.”

Young notes that her favorite part of working at Straub Benioff, and especially the Heart Center, is how welcoming the staff is, saying, “They make coming to work enjoyable and worthwhile, even when days can be stressful.”

To those interested in becoming a nurse, Young offers a memorable piece of advice that she once received from a patient. They said, “You really are never too old to pursue your dreams and goals. The sky is the limit of what you can do in your life. You just have to set your mind and heart fully on your goal.”

Paying It Forward

Entering the nursing field is not something that Scott Ninomiya initially intended on doing. He originally hoped to become a physical therapist. But while in college, Ninomiya’s grandfather suffered a stroke, which changed Ninomiya’s perspective on everything.

“This shifted my priorities and I decided to remain at home and focus on my family,” Ninomiya shares. “When I started to get involved in his care, I realized what an amazing profession nursing could be.”

As a nurse practitioner in wound ostomy, Ninomiya specializes in caring for people with stomach, skin or urinary disorders.

A typical day for Ninomiya kicks off around 7 a.m., when he begins to respond to questions from both patients and medical team members. Then, he’ll monitor multiple procedures, collaborate with the multidisciplinary team and help patients who are ready to go home.

“During the week, I spend time in different areas, including the operating room, emergency department, pediatric and adult floors, intensive care units and clinics seeing patients,” Ninomiya adds. “This role allows me to connect with people across the hospital, which is such a privilege.”

For those thinking about becoming a nurse, Ninomiya says nursing is a great option for anyone interested in growing professionally and personally while helping people in the community.

“Nursing is a career that allows you to pay it forward as you continue to give back,” Ninomiya says. “Although challenging, the role of a nurse practitioner has helped further fulfill my dream of being an advocate for patients.

“You will sometimes see individuals at their worst who will remember how you comforted, supported and cared for them,” Ninomiya continues. “That is the beauty of nursing; you learn to be a professional who can be an educator, patient advocate and family support system all at the same time.”

Serving the Community

Born and raised on the west side of Kaua‘i, Joanna Nishimura was homeschooled by her mother. At a young age, Nishimura’s parents taught her the importance of helping others.

“I grew up knowing many people in my small town and seeing the health disparities they faced. I knew right away that I wanted to serve in some capacity,” Nishimura says.

When her grandparents fell terminally ill, it was then that she decided to go into nursing.

“I witnessed the compassionate care they received through hospice services,” Nishimura shares. “I always knew I wanted to do something meaningful that benefited our community.

“My favorite part of my job is being there for patients and their families at some of the lowest points of their lives, knowing that I can make a positive impact,” Nishimura says. “Doing this requires a team effort, an interdisciplinary approach and collaboration. It is unbelievably rewarding when you see patients recovering and living their life to the fullest.”

Nishimura enjoys working at Wilcox and notes that the medical center’s values and vision closely align with her personal beliefs. She admires her co-workers, saying, “These amazing humans have cared for my own family members.

“They show up every day and take care of our community and every patient who is someone’s parent, grandparent, child or family member,” Nishimura continues.
While this career path comes with its share of challenges, Nishimura notes the importance of mentorship and encourages others that they can do whatever they set their minds to.

“For those who want to pursue nursing, I would say, have a growth mindset — nursing requires lifelong learning,” Nishimura says. “Also ask questions, collaborate with your team and advocate for your patients.”