Faces of St. Peter's: Melissa Martinez
Meet Melissa Martinez, nurse practitioner and patient navigator at The Breast Center at Saint Peter’s University Hospital.
Being the daughter of Puerto Rican-born parents has greatly influenced both the personal and professional lives of Melissa Martinez, nurse practitioner and patient navigator at The Breast Center at Saint Peter’s University Hospital. Martinez, 32, grew up in Perth Amboy. She received her bachelor of science degree in nursing from the College of New Jersey in 2002, and her master’s in nursing from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in 2008. Martinez is board-certified as an adult nurse practitioner by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. She now lives in Fords with her husband, Amable, 33, a teacher in the Newark school district, and their two children, Brianna, 4, and Marissa, 2.
How did your upbringing lead you to nursing?
My grandparents spoke no English and my parents, who moved here as teens, spoke mostly Spanish. I often went with them to doctors’ appointments to make sure things weren’t missed. I translated for my grandmother while she was being treated for cancer. It felt good to help my family make better decisions about their care, and I think it prepared me for what I do now.
I work mostly with Spanish-speaking patients, helping them navigate the healthcare system. And I assist those who have no insurance so that they get the services they need.
That sounds challenging.
It’s very rewarding. And I like that every day is different. I’m always learning something new. The cases are sometimes very complex and I feel lucky to be able to help patients who would not have access to care without Saint Peter’s.
What do you enjoy in your spare time?
My husband and I love salsa dancing. We both had parents who danced and we actually met while dancing. We danced more often before we had kids, of course. But our daughters love it now too—especially the costumes they get to wear.