Sandy Leiby NP has worked off and on for OHC since 2007. Currently she is performing DOT physicals and helping with a COVID testing site. We are always happy to work with Sandy.
Here is her amazing and powerful story:
My academic journey began at the United States Military Academy in West Point, NY. I was a member of the third class of cadets to admit women to their ranks. At the time, my major was Chemical Engineering as the Academy was predominantly an engineering school. Fast forwarding a few years would have me married to a fellow cadet and the full time mother of two biological children, two Korean daughters (adopted while stationed in the Republic of Korea) and two foster Latina daughters. Needless to say, my house was full.
As the children grew, my husband and I realized that our financial sacrifices and living on one income (which had allowed me to be at home to raise our children), also meant there was no viable financial plan to allow for college expenses. Many friends and family members felt that I should pursue nursing as a career. A three week hospital stay with a serious post-op infection allowed me to see nurses up close and personal (I vomited all over a nurse’s shoes one night). Six weeks after my surgery, I applied for a nursing program at Mass Bay Community College.
There were many hurdles for me to overcome those first months in school. I didn’t know a thing about computers. My children had to teach me, including the basics such as how to turn on the computer (using flash cards they designed). I failed my first nursing exam…but with dogged determination (and with the desire to be a good example/role model for my kids) I graduated at the top of my class.
During nursing school I was privileged to be able to visit Phenom Phen, Cambodia for a conference focusing on third world healthcare disparities. While there, I performed basic nursing care and immunizations at the Russian Hospital treating TB and HIV+ patients. This trip transformed me as a woman as well as a nurse. While in country I learned that under the Pol Pot regime, almost all teachers, doctors, nurses and any other educated individuals were massacred. Walking through the Killing Fields drove home the point how badly Cambodia had been ravaged. The country had lost all their healthcare professionals to genocide. During the conference, I learned that there was a gaping void of healthcare educators to even teach those willing to treat the sick. As a result of this realization, I made a decision to pursue the dream to become a nurse educator.
Over the next nine years, I was able to get my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in nursing as well as earning my Doctor of Nursing Practice. I taught at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester (as well as at the community college level) and I participated in multiple medical missions (with my NP and medical students) to Jamaica and the Dominican Republic. I also began to practice as a nurse practitioner in Occupational Health for Nancy Clover. Working for OHC afforded me flexibility with my schedule (which supported my dream to teach, practice and provide mission work).
Then, life happened. I fell at work and shattered my shoulder socket. In between the several failed surgeries to repair the damage; I was diagnosed with cancer. After six surgeries in two years, I found myself disabled and unable to work in the field I loved. In 2020, when the world was turned upside down for the Covid-19 pandemic; I had to watch on the sidelines while my fellow nurses lay their lives on the line day after day. Finally, with a change in health care providers and plan of care….I felt ready to return to work in February 2021 (after an eight year hiatus). Of course, my first call was to Nancy Clover. I began working within the safety and flexibility of OHS to step back in to nursing (all during a pandemic). I feel that I have been taking baby-steps (a very humbling experience). For years, I mourned the loss of my career and dreams. But, I am back nursing and helping others again….a miracle and dream come true.