By Suzanne Weiss/ Director of Public Relations
MANITOWOC, Wis. — When Melissa Hamachek, Silver Lake College’s newest addition to the nursing faculty, learned of a nursing position at Taycheedah Correctional Institution three years ago, her first thought was, “I don’t want to work in a women’s prison.”
Then she took another look through the lens of her Catholic upbringing.
“This is a vulnerable population that is often overlooked. You have to set aside your preconceived notions and just take care of the person in front of you, who is a human being with health needs,” Hamachek said. “It is a spiritual calling to care for people. Nurses do God’s work every day.”
A life-long resident of Manitowoc, Hamachek brings this compassion — and a wealth of nursing experience — to her faculty position in Silver Lake College’s new four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. She is one of a number of new faculty members who joined the college this fall.
Hamachek is no stranger to the campus. Since 2012, she has taught as an adjunct faculty member in Silver Lake College’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing completion program.
She began working at Taycheedah Correctional Institution in 2013, as a nurse educator and assistant health services unit manager, duties which she continues to perform on a part-time basis.
“I learn something new every day I’m there,” Hamachek said. “It has really highlighted to me the huge mental health problem in Wisconsin and the lack of services. We need to advocate more for outpatient services for mental health issues.”
Her decision to become a nurse was made while studying pre-med at Marquette University in Milwaukee. “Nurses have a helping gene. I found my helping gene,” Hamachek said.
She got to use that “helping gene” quite a lot during her 23 years as a registered nurse in various capacities at Holy Family Memorial Medical Center in Manitowoc.
“When I was a floor nurse, I loved when the nursing students came. I loved being able to teach them new ways of caring for patients,” she said. “I knew I wanted to be a nurse educator someday.”
After she received her Master of Science degree in nursing and health education from the University of Phoenix in Tempe, Arizona, Hamachek moved to the education department at Holy Family Memorial, where she was in charge of training nurses.
She finds it gratifying to share her knowledge as a nurse educator at Silver Lake College.
“When I saw the lightbulb go off in the mind of my first student, it really solidified that I had made the right decision in pursuing teaching. It’s wonderful feeling, very fulfilling,” Hamachek said. “It’s my way of giving back to the profession. It’s my duty to help the future of the profession. It’s not work to me. I love coming to Silver Lake College every day.