Whether you’ve known Nichelle for a long time, or you’re just getting to know her, this young professional tends to leave a lasting impression on everyone. Her infectiously positive attitude makes her a great addition to the SZV team and an even better person to know socially. This young lady took some time out in the Hot Seat to chat with us.
Tell us about yourself.
My name is Nichelle van der Mark. I’m 29 years old and recently engaged. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing and I recently obtained my Master of Science in Healthcare Administration. I work as a care procurement account manager at our local social and healthcare insurances, which means that I procure diverse care services, monitor relationships with care and service providers, amongst numerous other things.
What made you decide to get your degrees in the healthcare field?
I’ve been interested in healthcare for as long as I can remember. I’m not sure what exactly initiated this thought or feeling; but during my teenage years, I got first-hand experience in being a family care provider as my chronically ill grandmother lived with us, and the entire family helped to keep her as healthy and happy as possible while she was alive. I never planned on studying nursing. I never really knew what I wanted to do specifically, but I figured nursing was a good starting point. So I decided to try this when I was in the Netherlands and saw how naturally it felt to deal with patients.
Once I returned to St. Maarten, I knew I wanted to excel in the field but was unsure which direction I would feel most fulfilled in. I had a short tenure bedside nursing, as well as teaching nursing. However, when I moved to my current workplace, I got the opportunity to see a totally different angle to healthcare and care provision. In my current function, I feel like I can positively contribute to the health and wellbeing of a larger group of the population, which has shown me what my true purpose is within the healthcare field on the island.
What’s it like working in a medical field in a time when so much is going on?
As I am an account manager who also focuses on relationship management between SZV, healthcare providers and clients, it was very hectic during the beginning of the pandemic. It was unclear what the best way forward was, and how to transition to a more distant approach in care provision while providing the right quality of care and being able to monitor this on our end as well. So during early 2020, it was a difficult transition. However, our healthcare and service providers all had our insured- and the general population’s health as their priority, so it became much easier once we realized the “new normal” would not be temporary and the show must go on.
How has COVID changed how you do your job?
I went from working in the office five days a week, to permanently working from home from March 2020. Instead of simply making a quick phone call, driving or walking over to another location for a meeting, everything had to be done via email and Teams. My job has become a bit less personal due to the restrictions of only meeting (new) people via a computer screen.
Where do you see yourself in the next few years?
My goal would be to excel within this field and have a leading position in healthcare within the next five years. Most prominent leadership positions in healthcare in St. Maarten have yet to be filled by a certified healthcare professional. So, who knows! The sky is the limit. My goal is to have a positive contribution in modernizing and improving our healthcare system to the benefit of all Soualigans.
Outside of the work you do, how do you stay grounded?
Aside from working, I enjoy working out at Colosseum SXM CrossFit and going to the beach. I was a member of the National Volleyball team, but took a step back from that commitment when I started my Master’s course. But I’m looking forward to getting back out on the court once the threat of COVID has subsided.
What advice would you give to others who want to study in the healthcare field?
Go for it! The pandemic has shown us how vital a well-oiled healthcare system is for the recovery of a country. Having more healthcare professionals, in any direction and at any level, is a win for the entire country. If it’s something you truly have a passion for, then do it.
If you could have a conversation with any three people, living or dead, who would they be and what would you want to ask them?
The only person I can come up with is my grandmother. She passed away almost nine years ago, while I was away studying in the Netherlands. I’d like to ask her advice on coping with adulthood and how to stay grounded and true to myself throughout the obstacles that come with growing up and starting a family. She was the strongest, most caring and genuine person I’ve had the privilege of learning from, so I’d like to learn more about this phase of life to be a more confident me.