Nursing Side Gigs: Children’s Book Author

Nursing Side Gigs: Children’s Book Author

This is part of a monthly series about side gigs—nurses with interesting side jobs or hobbies. This month, we spotlight a children’s book author.

Children's book author Scharmaine Lawson
Dr. Lawson

When Scharmaine Lawson, FNP-BC, FAANP, FAAN, was looking around to find children’s books that both talked about the role of Advanced Practice Nurses and included children from various cultures, she was disappointed.

She couldn’t find any.

So Lawson took charge and decided to write and publish some of her own. In 2015, the first book in her series of Nola the Nurse books was published under the publishing company she established, A DrNurse Publishing House.

To date, Lawson has published 17 books, for children ages 4 to 8, with 15 of them being about Nola.

“I felt it was important to show the role of the Advanced Practice Nurse. I felt like our children needed to see what these frontline professionals do and be able to at least pronounce their titles,” Lawson explains. “It was equally important for me to create culturally sensitive literary works for the new generation of future health care professionals.”

Lawson admits that she never had a desire to be an author. In fact, she was actually searching for books for her newborn daughter that talked about Mommy’s work and had characters that looked like her. But when she realized that there weren’t any books of that kind for an older age group, she knew she needed to step up.

“Our books are the only children’s books that introduce children to the world of Advanced Practice Nursing, foster cultural sensitivity, and provide authentic cultural recipes to the reader at the end of each story. Nola learns about a new culture in each story, and they eat a special meal from that featured culture at the end of every story,” says Lawson.

Currently, she is finishing up the “Germ Series.” Lawson explains that the series talks about all the germs around us, including the coronavirus. “It’s a new format, and I’m excited about it,” she says.

Lawson admits that she’s always writing and publishes a new title every quarter. “We are constantly expanding the brand and looking to add animation in the near future,” she says. “Children need more options for careers, and they need this information early. The sooner, the better.”

Nursing Side Gigs: Actress, Director, and Scream Queen

Nursing Side Gigs: Actress, Director, and Scream Queen

This is part of a monthly series about side gigs—nurses with interesting side jobs or hobbies. This month, we spotlight an actress/director/scream queen.

As a nurse for more than 20 years, Sheri Davis, RN, has worked in a variety of settings: hospitals, the medical device industry, and as an aesthetics nurse with Kalologie MedSpa primarily at the Thousand Oaks location in California, where she works now as a master injector and trainer.

But on the side? She’s a scream queen.

(If you don’t know what a scream queen is, it’s an actress who has performed in a lot of horror movies.)

“To date, I’ve been in around 70 films,” says Davis. While they’re not only horror—she’s appeared in and worked on dramas, thrillers, sci-fi, family films, and comedies—she’s worked on horror films the most. And Davis has won a lot of awards for her work.

“The first film that I directed, ‘Hair of the Dog,’ is actually a film about alcoholism and domestic violence. That film has won numerous awards and continues to do so in the film festival circuit,” explains Davis. “We have won in pretty much all categories including Best Director, Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Thriller, Best in Fest, Audience Choice Award, etc.”

Davis got started in acting when her oldest daughter was working as a child actress and model. Often, Davis was on the set, in acting classes, or at auditions with her. Although she describes herself at the time as self-conscious and shy, Davis learned so much from being on the set, and she loved it. So she decided to give it a shot.

As a single mom of two daughters—one of whom is away at college and the other who has autism and lives with Davis—she says that the most difficult part of her side gig is finding the time. “It is pretty difficult to juggle everything in my life,” says Davis. “I have to stay extremely organized with my time and be disciplined. I have had to learn to really balance everything.”

In her typical work week, Davis says that she works three days at her nursing job and then spends the other days working in entertainment. Sometimes, that will flip-flop, and she’ll work four or five days in nursing and a couple on films. “Every break and every morning and night before and after work, I am answering emails, social media messages, and text messages. I’m submitting to projects via casting networks, doing auditions, etc.,” she says. She also has an agent, manager, and publicist.

Scream queen Sheri Davis on set

Something that really ties her nursing job with her side gig is working with special effects. Davis often works with makeup artists on set “to help make sure the special effects makeup looks real. I have seen a lot of really horrible and sad things working in hospitals, especially the emergency room. However, that is a beneficial quality to have on a horror film set,” Davis says. She’s also been able to help set up scenes with different medical devices, such as IV’s, catheters, and various medical equipment—and make sure it’s done properly. Davis assists with making sure that if they call a “code blue,” it happens as it would in real life. She says that making these scenes appear real for the screen are crucial as is making sure that the dialogue is realistic. Davis has even served at the set medic/nurse at times as well.

“There is nothing worse for me than to be watching a medical show and see things are so unrealistic—it makes me crazy!” Davis admits.

Why does she love acting? Davis says that it allows her to become characters that are completely different from who she really is. “Acting allows me to experience an entirely different world. As an actor, I can become anything or anyone, and the roles that I have played have mostly been entirely different from my real life,” she says. “However, being a nurse as well has opened many doors for me in the entertainment world. I have played a nurse, doctor, and been a medical advisor on sets often.”

Nursing Side Gigs: Women of Integrity Inc.

Nursing Side Gigs: Women of Integrity Inc.

This is part of a monthly series about side gigs—nurses with interesting side jobs or hobbies. This month, we spotlight the founder of the nonprofit Women of Integrity Inc.

Shantay Carter, BSN, RN
Founder of Women of Integrity Inc.

For her full-time job, Shantay Carter, BSN, RN, works for Northwell Health Systems. But in her free time, she works for the nonprofit she founded in 2010, Women of Integrity Inc. in New York.

Carter says that she founded the organization because she was experiencing a tough time in her life and wanted to work with youth, which she’s always enjoyed. “I decided to channel that negative energy into something positive,” Carter explains. “I created WOI so that it would be a resource and support system for the women in the community. Our goal is to empower and educate women of all ages and ethnicities.”

WOI holds a number of events throughout the year to help both girls and women. They hold an annual prom dress drive, a prom dress giveaway, a prom makeover project, a women in business brunch, educational workshops, mentoring, and a Galentine’s Day celebration. Carter says that they also partner with other local community organizations to help host girls’ empowerment events.

WOI Prom Dress Giveaway

“I think it’s necessary to have an organization like WOI because our young girls and women need a safe place, they need support, they need to know that they are loved and worthy, and that their voices are being heard. We provide them with the tools necessary to achieve their goals and aspirations,” says Carter. “Through WOI, we have been able to create a platform that has helped many entrepreneurs start or grow their businesses, and we have mentored so many young women over the years. We have also hosted numerous educational workshops on health, etiquette, and finances. We have created a network/sisterhood of like-minded, positive women who enjoy giving back to their community and want to make a difference.”

WOI Mentoring Program

Carter admits that she’s experienced some challenges. She needed to select the right team members to help, gain the support of the community, and raise money. “There are times when you may feel like giving up, but then you have to remind yourself of your purpose and why you are doing this,” she says.

If you’re a nurse and want to start a nonprofit, Carter has some advice:

  • Find your passion first, and then it will lead you to your purpose.
  • Research your target group or area that you want your organization to serve.
  • Get a lawyer when it comes time to get your 501 (C) (3).
  • Learn to network strategically and intentionally.
  • Support those who support you.
  • Know your competition so that you can learn how to stand out.
  • Have a great team behind you.
WOI Galentine’s Day Celebration

“The vision for the organization has to be bigger than you because it’s not about you,” Carter says. “It’s about the community and the people you serve. Don’t try to compete with others. Just focus on what you are doing and your end goal. You may feel like giving up and become frustrated, but you have to keep pushing. What’s meant for you will be for you.”

Nursing Side Gigs: Raising Puppies for Canine Companions for Independence

Nursing Side Gigs: Raising Puppies for Canine Companions for Independence

This is part of a monthly series about side gigs—nurses with interesting side jobs or hobbies. This month, we spotlight a volunteer puppy raiser.

In 2017, Catherine Burger, BSN, MSOL, RN, NEA-BC, now a Media & Brand Specialist for, was in the midst of building her own home-based business after having retired from corporate nursing. Along with her husband and their youngest son, Burger had moved from Sacramento to San Diego, California, and she was looking for a volunteer opportunity.

“I kept seeing puppies with yellow vests in my area,” recalls Burger. “We had lost our dog several years prior, and it took many years before I was ready for another dog. I told my family that I believed we were meant to raise a service puppy, so we looked into it more.”

Burger had friends already involved with Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), so she and her family were able to talk with them and ask lots of questions. After completing an online application, as well as a home visit by a CCI staff member, they were approved and placed on a list to receive a nine-week-old puppy to raise.

“Canine Companions for Independence, a nonprofit organization, was founded in 1975 to provide expertly trained service dogs to enhance the lives of people with disabilities,” explains Burger. “These dogs are not just providing help with daily living by being the arms, legs, and ears of their partners, but also open to opportunities to live with greater independence and confidence.”

CCI provides these dogs to adults, children, veterans, and professionals, depending on their needs. The breeds used are yellow and black Labradors, Golden Retrievers, and mixes of these two breeds. “Most service-dog programs charge up to $40,000 for a trained assistance dog. Through volunteer puppy raisers like us, plus donations and sponsors, CCI is able to provide the trained dogs at no cost to the recipients,” says Burger.

When they started working with CCI, Burger and her family received a lot of training. “CCI provides mentoring, guidebooks, and many areas offer weekly training classes. As a puppy raiser for CCI, you commit to attending at least two puppy-training classes each week. There are professional dog trainers available for consult as needed if the puppy has any specific issues,” says Burger. “It is an extremely supportive program and community of puppy raisers. For example, we watch each other’s puppies when anyone is traveling.”

Burger and her family are raising their second puppy for CCI. Their first puppy, Nancy VI, is now a Change of Career (COC) dog, and they adopted her. Unfortunately, Nancy wasn’t able to get over having car anxiety. “We worked closely with the professional trainers to try to break her of the panting, drooling, and stiff body language,” says Burger. “While we were thrilled to adopt Nancy as our own COC dog, we were disappointed that she was not able to move into professional training to offer help and hope to someone in need.”

As puppy raisers, Burger and her family volunteer to provide everything for the puppy for the first 10 months of its life. Then they turn the puppy in for professional training. “We pay for the food, vet bills, vaccines, anything the puppy needs,” says Burger. “We are responsible to teach around 30 commands to the puppies at home — which are modeled through puppy class sessions — such as sit, down, back, side, heel, up, car, off, etc. Along with this training, our most important role is to socialize the puppies in public to get them ready to handle numerous situations in order for them to provide the most support to their future handler. Puppy class also provides field trips for the puppies to experience trains, buses, and even practice with getting through TSA and onto an airplane. The more confidence through varied experiences we can provide to the puppy, the more prepared they are for professional training and better prepared to be a strong assistance dog.”

Although they give so much to CCI and the community through raising puppies, Burger says that she and her family get a lot back as well. One of the best experiences has been seeing how the lives of those who receive dogs from CCI are radically changed. “Parents of an autistic child who, after receiving a dog for their son, were able to sleep through the night for the first time in 8 years because having the dog in bed gave him so much comfort,” says Burger. “I have also participated several times at Paloma Valley High School’s ‘Paws for Finals,’ where puppy raisers in the area bring their puppies to the school during finals. The kids are able to come pet and love on the dogs to minimize their stress. It brings tears to my eyes every time when I see a group of the popular kids, the geeky kids, the Emo kids, the shy kids, and the athletes all sitting around with their hands on my puppy, sharing dog stories together. It is also interesting that the puppies are absolutely exhausted after this stress-absorbing time with the kids!

“We are very proud to be associated with such an organization,” says Burger.

Nursing Side Gigs: Boxing Coach

Nursing Side Gigs: Boxing Coach

This is part of a monthly series about side gigs—nurses with interesting side jobs or hobbies. This month, we spotlight a boxing coach.

By day, Cindy Bohmont, RN, SEN, Med, CCRN, CSD, works as a staff nurse in the Cardiovascular Surgical Intensive Care Unit at Mercy Hospital in Springfield, Missouri. She’s worked at Mercy for 48 years, and during that time, she’s worked PRN in Coronary ICU, Pediatric ICU, Medical ICU, Neurotrauma ICU, and Mercy Home Health Care. For five years, she even taught at St. John’s School of Nursing.

In her free time, though, Bohmont does something that you might never expect from a nurse: she officiates amateur boxing matches and is moving into the professional field to work as an official for professional fights.

Boxing coach Cindy Bohmont

About 25 years ago, Bohmont developed her interest in boxing after two of her sons got into a fight on their ranch. When he was in the Marines, her husband boxed, and he suggested that they find a gym for the boys to learn boxing.

“We found a boxing program at the Boys and Girls Club in Springfield, Missouri,” says Bohmont. “And I was hooked!”

Bohmont says that all five of her sons as well as her youngest daughter became involved in boxing, although none of them ever went pro.

While Bohmont began as a supportive mom, attending her kids’ matches, she soon learned enough to become an amateur official and began judging boxing tournaments all across the state. She also began coaching at the club. “I discovered that the sport of boxing is not just a legal fight. It’s a very complicated sport—[boxers are] trying to land scoring punches while at the same time protecting themselves,” explains Bohmont. “The most important things I taught were integrity, fair play, good nutrition, good sleeping habits, believing in yourself, generally taking care of your body and mind, and no drugs, smoking, or alcohol.”

Because, Bohmont says, boxing is an individual sport, whatever athletes put into it—in terms of training and the like—that’s what they get out of it.

Although some may think that it’s counteractive for a nurse to coach a sport where athletes get injured, Bohmont says that “If you listen to the news, you will rarely hear of a boxing injury. Everyone knows someone with a tennis-elbow, football knee, etc. Most boxers are in tremendous shape and are very skilled at defensive maneuvers.”

Boxing Coach Cindy Bohmont

Over the years, Bohmont has won a number of awards, including the Outstanding Official of the National Junior Golden Gloves Tournament in Mesquite, Nevada as well as the Greater Kansas City Golden Gloves Coach of the Year. “Those are major accomplishments when you consider this is generally a male domain that I’ve jumped into,” Bohmont says.

Considering that coaching boxing can be tough on the coach’s joints (Bohmont would hold practice pads and mitts for up to 30 kids to hit each night for four nights a week over 20 years), she has decided to focus on moving into the professional field of boxing and aspires to be an official for pro fights.

That’s just one reason why Bohmont has begun working one week a month in the ICU at St. Rose Hospital in Las Vegas, Nevada, as the area holds tons of professional boxing matches.

“It has been difficult stepping back a little from coaching. Then I get an email or see a Facebook posting from one of my former boxers with a new aspect of their lives that I had a hand in guiding them toward,” says Bohmont. “It’s so good for my soul to be able to work with healthy, thriving young men and women after caring for the sickest of the sick in the intensive care unit. It keeps me emotionally healthy and balanced.”

Nursing Side Gigs: Healthcare 911

Nursing Side Gigs: Healthcare 911

This is part of a monthly series about side gigs—nurses with interesting side jobs or hobbies. This month, we spotlight the host of Healthcare 911.

For the last four decades, Gail Trauco, RN, BSN-OCN, a grief mediator as well as the CEO of The PharmaKon LLC and Front Porch Therapy in Atlanta, Georgia, has worked in health care as a nurse and patient advocate. In 2015, though, she began to incorporate appearances on television on morning news and talk shows nationwide into her advocacy work.

Gail Trauco, RN, BSN-OCN

By the end of 2016, Trauco says that she had appeared on more than 60 morning news and talk shows across the country including ABC, CBS, the CW, FOX, and NBC.

That’s where she came up with the idea for Healthcare 911—three- to six-minute segments that take a look at specific health conditions and related solutions. Because of her longtime association with leading hospitals, university medical programs, and health care providers, Trauco says that she is uniquely qualified to bring this information to viewers.

Trauco writes and oversees the production of all of these segments, which now reach as many as 145 million homes in 210 cities nationwide. Viewers can see Healthcare 911 on its weekly spot on The Daily Flash TV show.

In 2019, Healthcare 911 won a Bronze Telly Award for Social Awareness, showing that it’s making a difference says Trauco.

Trauco has helped more than 5,000 families through health challenges. “My exposure to innovative treatments and continued involvement in clinical research allows me to provide a 360-degree view of what’s available in health care today,” she says.

Healthcare 911 features medical professionals as well as leading-edge healing protocols that can help millions of Americans. Guests on the segments represent various health care areas—from leading physicians and clinical trial experts to innovative product inventors and pharmaceutical companies.

“Healthcare 911 viewers will feel empowered to help themselves or a loved one more forward with new health care options and treatment,” says Trauco. “Every topic that will be covered on Healthcare 911 is something that I have learned as a nurse. My approach to patient advocacy comes from over 40 years of direct patient experience—from my time as an oncology nurse to present day, working with some or the world’s leading health care providers and medical experts.”

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