Meet Anela Tamashiro, APRN

Educating patients to understand how to best care for themselves by incorporating their native cultural values is probably a bigger goal than most people set for themselves, but for Anela Tamashiro APRN, it’s a life-long commitment.


“The Hawaiian culture is not as trusting with Western medicine so I use Native Hawaiian values such as lokahi or balance, `ohana or family, and aloha or love and compassion when educating and caring for my patients,” says Tamashiro, director of clinical operations at Waimanalo Health Center (WHC). “By tailoring a patient’s health care using a culturally appropriate care approach helps ensure success with their treatment.“


Establishing a patient relationship based on mutual understanding and trust is also important in increasing compliance with treatment, says Tamashiro. 


“Even if I have just five minutes, I try and explain to my patients why we are administering the diabetes or heart medications, rather than telling them what they must do and take,” she says with characteristic enthusiasm. “Educating patients about the reason behind their treatments is my passion.”


Tamashiro credits her teachers at Kamehameha Schools for instilling in her a strong knowledge of Native Hawaiian values and a vision of someday working with the Native Hawaiian population. Since graduating in 1996, Tamashiro gained valuable experience working as a registered nurse for seven years in acute care settings. But her true calling came when she accepted the job at Waimanalo Health Center.


"Working in a rural healthcare setting like WHC is refreshing and rewarding, as patients generally are in better spirits when they come to a community center for treatment than when they receive it in a hospital," adds Tamashiro. " Native Hawaiians frequently prefer to access health services located within their own communities. When I see a former patient who was deteriorating in the hospital come to WHC and stand up and walk, or a diabetes patient take control of his or her sugar problem, it gives me a wonderful feeling.”


Anela smiles when thinking back on how long it took her to heed her parents’ advice of pursuing nursing school.


“I used to hate needles, so I never thought I’d go into nursing,” she recalls. “But there came a point when I asked myself, “What am I going to do with my life?” That’s when I decided to try nursing—and I am really glad I did.”