Music Stars Making A Social Impact: Why & How Keshia Jaboin of Northwell Health Nurse Choir Is…

Posted on

Music Stars Making A Social Impact: Why & How Keshia Jaboin of Northwell Health Nurse Choir Is Helping To Change Our World

Reach for the stars — go after whatever it is you have in mind but remain open to the unexpected. Sometimes unforeseen opportunities present themselves and if we take a chance on them, the rewards can be great.

As a part of our series about stars who are making an important social impact, I had the pleasure of interviewing Keshia Jaboin.

Keshia Jaboin, RN, BSN, has been a nurse at Northwell Health for more than seven years and recently completed a master’s degree in nursing. She considers nursing one of the most rewarding aspects of her life and is honored to touch so many lives through her interactions with patients and through her involvement in the Northwell Health Nurse Choir.

Thank you so much for joining us on this interview series. Can you share with us the backstory that led you to this career path?

I grew up in a musical family — we sang all the time, both casually at home and in church. We were constantly harmonizing with each other and would break into laughter when my dad would try to join in, as he was the least musical one of all of us.

I viewed singing as just a hobby until I had the opportunity to audition for the Northwell Health Nurse Choir. The choir received quite a bit of attention, locally and nationally, leading to our appearance on America’s Got Talent where we ended up as top 10 finalists.

Since appearing on America’s Got Talent, I’ve been able to combine my passion for nursing with my love of song. Not only have we continued to perform as a choir, but I have also been able to incorporate singing into my patient care. My coworkers often share with patients my love for singing and my involvement in the choir. As a result, patients sometimes ask me to sing for them. I’m always happy to do so because I see firsthand the joy a simple song can bring.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career? What was the lesson or takeaway you took out of that story?

I’m so committed to being a maternity nurse that early on in my career, I got a little too close to mom and baby — literally — physically too close! I was helping a new mom express her breastmilk, and I nearly found myself covered in breastmilk due to my close proximity and commitment to the task. Now I know to stand at the side of mom instead of in front of her. One lesson is to never underestimate the force and power of breastmilk! But the greater lesson learned was that you can be committed to your work, while also giving yourself some space, too.

What would you advise a young person who wants to emulate your success?

Reach for the stars — go after whatever it is you have in mind but remain open to the unexpected. Sometimes unforeseen opportunities present themselves and if we take a chance on them, the rewards can be great.

Is there a person that made a profound impact on your life? Can you share a story?

My mom has made the biggest impact. She immigrated to the US from Haiti and worked hard to provide for me and my siblings. Her commitment to bettering those around her is visible through both her work and her dedication to our family.

When she was young, she wanted to be a nurse, too. But as she tells me, she once tried a nursing program, saw blood, and almost fainted. She knew nursing wasn’t for her, so she went into early childhood education, and now runs an orphanage for young girls in Haiti.

I grew up admiring her desire to help others, and I wanted to follow that path myself. I’m a bit less squeamish than my mom, and while nursing wasn’t the path for my mom, it turns out that it certainly was for me.

How are you using your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting causes you’re working on right now?

The Northwell Health Nurse Choir has performed many times since America’s Got Talent, including performances at the White House, Carnegie Hall and as the opening act for Train. With our fame we were placed on a national stage, and we were able to bring our songs to a wider audience than any of us could have imagined, an amazing privilege to share the joy of music and song.

The world needs song more than ever and alongside that, I am grateful to have a unique platform to showcase the multi-dimensionality of being both a nurse and a Black female healthcare leader.

The opportunities the choir provides also gives me a platform to bring attention to an issue I’m very committed to — the ongoing struggles in equity of healthcare. Patients of color have traditionally had unequal access to care, and that is especially true of Black women. Black maternal mortality, for example, remains unacceptably high and is an unfortunate, ongoing reality.

I am committed to raising awareness around health equity, and to healing people with compassion, a sense of community, and even through song. I work every day to make sure all patients feel comfortable, represented, and feel they have someone looking out for them and caring for them the way they deserve.

Can you share with us a story behind why you chose to take up this particular cause?

When training to become a nurse, you have the chance to work in many different types of healthcare settings and in many communities. Any nurse will tell you there is a big gap between the healthcare facilities that serve the less fortunate among us and those facilities that are in wealthier areas. Regardless of wealth, there is always a need to deliver culturally competent care. This care shows the patients that we see them and we understand them, and — as the nursing workforce becomes more diverse — we increasingly look more like them. This type of representation matters. One of the biggest driving factors in advancing in my nursing career was due to my desire to serve the underserved populations.

Can you share with us a story about a person who was impacted by your cause?

As I mentioned earlier, my coworkers often talk with patients about my time on America’s Got Talent. It’s a connection, and an interesting story to tell them.

I had a patient and her husband who were under a lot of stress — they were managing a difficult pregnancy. They told me they had heard I was a singer and had seen videos of me performing on YouTube, so I made up a song for them to brighten the mood. It was simple and silly, just singing what I would usually say: “Good evening, I am going to take care of you tonight…”

It was amazing to see how music connected us in that moment. They were able to forget about the stress and anxieties they were feeling about their baby. In that moment with my very small gesture, they could laugh and be joyful.

When I tie singing and nursing together, the outcome is incredible. It brings hope, love and joy. I am so happy I can combine singing with nursing and bring a moment of human connection and kindness between myself as a caregiver and my patients.

Are there three things or are there things that individuals, society, or the government can do to support you in this effort?

There is a lot that is currently being done to improve patient care from focusing on more holistic patient needs to examining the way we build a culture of care in the hospital environment. We must look at healing in a multidimensional way — the power of the arts, including music, in healing is critical. The physical space that surrounds patients in the hospital is so important, too. Northwell Health is committed to improving maternal health, supporting soon-to-be parents in every aspect of their journey to keep everyone healthy.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started”

It is OK not to know it all. You are constantly learning, and that’s part of life.

Coworkers are key. They become your family and you can build relationships that last a lifetime.

Embrace the things that give you joy. In my case, it’s song. Turns out your joy can bring others joy, too.

Love the unexpected.

Take every opportunity you can to learn and grow and try new things.

You’re a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

Kindness goes a long way. They say love makes the world go round, yet it’s something that we too often lack these days.

I’d like to start a ‘Spread the Love’ Day. It would be a day where everyone is encouraged to perform random acts of kindness — maybe even for somebody you’ve never met.

Can you please give us your favorite life lesson quote? And can you explain how that was relevant in your life?

“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”

This quote is relevant because it helps me to remember to walk by faith and put my best foot forward. Life doesn’t go as planned. You can try to plan it all out from beginning to end, but it almost always will never go the way you expected.

Sometimes you have to go for it and pray for the best. You will never know what’s on the other side if you don’t try.

We are blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

I love Issa Rae. It would be great to sit down with her and hear her story in person. I have followed her since her YouTube series Awkward Black Girl. She has impacted so many people. For me, watching her grow as an entrepreneur has really made an impact on my life.

My favorite show of hers was Insecure, it touched on so many important life issues that girls my age go through. We all have so much potential, so much creativity, but don’t necessarily know how to put it out there.

Issa Rae is really a gem — an inspiration.

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

Music Stars Making A Social Impact: Why & How Keshia Jaboin of Northwell Health Nurse Choir Is… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.