NORFOLK, Va. — Mirna Medina-Gonzalez and Maxine Morales are both nurses at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. But they’re more than just coworkers - they’re also a mother, daughter duo.
"What do they call you?" Medina-Gonzalez jokingly asked her daughter, as the two clasped hands.
"Mini-me," Morales said through a laugh. "I think I kind of had to earn that... it was very exciting to see my mom at work."
Maxine grew up listening to her mother tell stories of nursing at the dinner table.
While her other four siblings didn't seem to take much interest, she remembers listening and trying to absorb every moment and story.
So, when she switched her major to nursing when as a sophomore at Radford University, it simply made sense.
After all, she was following in both her mother's and grandmother's footsteps.
When Maxine graduated nursing school 16 years ago, she joined her mother at Sentara Norfolk.
"It was really nice because she worked in the general ICU, so her preceptor [supervisor] hired me, and folks that my mom precepted [supervised], precepted me," Morales said.
"It was always nice to hear little things about my mom when she was at the bedside, and I'm sure they would sneak off and chat about me at the bedside," she said.
Both Mirna and Maxine feel strongly that nursing is more than just making sure you're coving your bases clinically -- it's also about emotions of those who find themselves or a loved one in a heartbreaking circumstance.
"It's the heart of it," Morales said, as her mother nodded next to her.
"It's the person, not only the person in the bed, most of the time they can't really speak to you, but the family is there watching you, you're interacting with them, you're educating them, you're supporting them and they're supporting you, too."
For this mother-daughter duo, nursing is truly about the people and the lives they can touch.
Even during COVID-19 and the impact that it had on healthcare workers, the two women found new, safe ways to stay connected.
Cups of coffee and sweet notes that they would pass to each other in the halls helped them through.
"It was challenging for sure," Medina-Gonzalez said.
"The main thing was our Monday debrief... I would make some espresso, and we would just talk about the challenges. I think just being able to vent, and you're venting with someone who is in your same shoes is just a great advantage."
While both can say that they've always had a good bond, they feel that being able to say they've worked closely together has brought their relationship to a new level of trust and compassion.
"Being in the same profession, especially nursing, and knowing what we do..." Medina-Gonzalez said. "It's in your blood, and it's something you can relate to."