All she ever wanted to do was help people, so at the tender age of 16, Mary Daniels took a job as a nursing assistant at a small private hospital in Pittsburgh. Within a year she was referred by a friend for an opening at the Eye & Ear Hospital, and her 40-year career at UPMC was launched.
A rich and satisfying career it has been. Ms. Daniels trained on the job as a vestibular technician to test patients for balance disorders. It was a natural fit that has withstood the test of time. For four decades, Ms. Daniels has brought a personal vibrancy and deeply human warmth to her work with patients who require testing for inner ear disorders.
“I just love the medical field,” she says. “Jobs in health care provide opportunities for people to give of themselves, which is the most important thing you can do.”
Ms. Daniels works with a tightly knit group of professionals in the vestibular testing lab of the Balance Disorders Clinic of UPMC’s Eye & Ear Institute. The lab uses ocular motor screening, caloric testing, positional and rotational testing, as well as posturography and specialized vestibular testing to evaluate balance disorders. In order to prescribe the best treatment, physicians must first determine the cause of a patient’s condition. An accurate diagnosis allows the best treatment to be determined.
During her tenure Ms. Daniels has experienced first-hand the evolution and increasing sophistication and computerization of vestibular testing. She was there at the merger of the Eye & Ear Hospital and UPMC, and has seen the progress of applied research in improved testing and treatment for her patients.
Now, after 40 years of dedicated service to the Pittsburgh community, Ms. Daniels is moving on. “In deciding to retire I know I’ll miss the people the most,” she says. “My co-workers are like family, and my patients, they’re the whole reason we’re here.”
She advises young people to enter health care professions. “In helping people we find a sense of purpose and meaning that we can’t get any other way,” she says.
In retirement, Ms. Daniels will be making a difference in the lives of seniors at a neighborhood senior center where she volunteers. She’ll be spending time with grandchildren, traveling and touching people with her unique warmth and positive energy wherever she goes.
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