Two weeks after graduating from Adelphi’s School of Nursing, Sonia Maniaci began working at New York University Hospital as a staff nurse in pediatrics. She found working with children who were very ill to be demanding yet rewarding. “It broke my heart to see certain patients had to keep coming back,” Mrs. Maniaci recalls. “But it was always wonderful when they recuperated and went home.”
Six months into her career, Mrs. Maniaci was promoted to staff senior nurse, and one year later became a team leader of the adolescent unit. One of the things Mrs. Maniaci loved most was the team aspect of nursing; she recalls how she and the other nurses worked cooperatively and shared group responsibility. “We really worked together…we got things done,” she says. Besides fulfilling her responsibilities as team leader, Mrs. Maniaci would also act in the head nursing position when needed.
When she did her night rotation, Mrs. Maniaci and one other nurse were frequently in charge of the six bed pediatric intensive care unit. If the hospital was understaffed, however, Mrs. Maniaci would be in charge of the entire 28 bed adolescent unit, with the help of only one nursing aid.
Working at University Hospital was a wonderful learning experience for Mrs. Maniaci. There was never a dull moment; she found everyday to be challenging, interesting, and rewarding.
Mrs. Maniaci worked at University Hospital for four years before she left to start a family. She jokes that she went from being a leader of her unit at the hospital to “running her own little unit” at home, raising three sons!
Eventually Mrs. Maniaci’s husband’s career led their family overseas; the family of five spent more than 17 years living abroad. From 1979 to 1996 they experienced different environments and cultures, living in Mexico City, Hong Kong, and London. Mrs. Maniaci embraced this experience; not only was it a wonderful opportunity for her husband, but it also provided for a fabulous environment to raise their children.
Today, living in Garden City, Long Island, Mrs. Maniaci fondly remembers her family’s life overseas as a diverse, amazing, and invaluable experience. Two of her sons have married, and one is back in school, working towards his master’s degree. They also have two beautiful grandchildren. Mrs. Maniaci and her husband love to travel, especially to visit their son and his family in Australia. Recently they have traveled to Italy and London, and they are heading to Hawaii and back to Sydney in the near future.
When and why did you first want to become a nurse?
I knew I wanted to be a nurse and take care of children since I was little.
I remember getting advice about becoming a nurse. I was advised not to go to a hospital school of nursing program, but to get my baccalaureate of science degree at a school that had a four year nursing program. I knew Adelphi had a baccalaureate program. Living in Oceanside, Long Island, I could commute to Adelphi.
I was the first and only member of my immediate family to attend and complete a four year college program.
Do you have favorite memories of your time at Adelphi and your residencies?
I remember Miss Joan Heinzman, who taught the course Fundamentals of Nursing my first year. She was wonderful. Miss Heinzman later became the Director of Nursing at University Hospital, and hired me for my first job!
I have great memories of times spent with my girlfriends, especially those in the nursing program.
During college I worked Fridays, Saturdays, and summers with a pediatrician in Oceanside; one summer I worked in a nursing home; and I also had a job on campus, at Swirbul Library.
I felt well-prepared after graduating from Adelphi. My education provided me with the basics of nursing and bedside nursing came naturally to me.
What are some changes you have seen in nursing throughout the years?
The practice of bedside nursing has changed. There was a lot of patient contact when I was a nurse. Things seem to be very different today. I know from recent experiences at the hospital and the ER, a physician assistant seems to take care of the patient instead of a nurse.
What advice would you give to today’s nursing students?
Nothing is impossible if you work hard enough. Strive to be the very best that you can be.