What does the week of a full-time professional women’s hockey player and MGH nurse look like? Just ask Meghara McManus, RN, who does both.
The White 9 nurse – and forward for the Boston Pride – wakes up at 5 am, works on the patient care floor from 7 am to 7 pm, then heads home, where she trades in her scrubs for skates for 9 pm hockey practice. It’s a juggling act, but McManus doesn’t complain.
“I’m honored to be able to do both jobs and have never had to miss some of one thing for the other,” she says. “On game weekends I’ll fit my MGH shifts in earlier in the week, then work on weekends when there is no game, then do regular errands on my days off. It’s a grind, but I embrace that grind.”
McManus grew up ice skating with her brother and played on boys’ teams until she was 14. She continued playing at prep school, and then at the University of New Hampshire, though it wasn’t always an easy process. “The recruiting process can be very vigorous. Many teams told me I was too small, or I wasn’t fast enough,” she says.
Despite the early criticism, McManus proved herself more than worthy, becoming the team’s leading goal scorer and being named MVP in her senior year. After graduating, she was drafted to the Boston Pride, one of seven teams in the Premier Hockey Federation – formerly the National Women’s Hockey League – where she has played for the past three seasons.
During that time, her team won the championship trophy twice – and McManus received her nursing degree and changed her career from a patient care assistant (PCA) to a floor nurse at MGH.
“It was a great transition because the group of PCAs I worked with all got hired to the same floor, an amazing unit where everyone is so kind and always there to help,” McManus says. “One of the biggest challenges in becoming a nurse is knowing who to ask, what to do, where to find things. The transition was so smooth because of the other nurses on the floor, we just had that support from the start.”
Two nurses who have exemplified this kindness, helpfulness and flexibility for McManus and her two jobs are Naomi Martel, RN, White 9 nursing director, and Shannon Mahoney, RN, White 9 clinical nurse specialist.
“Everyone has things in their lives – people have kids, jobs, hobbies, it’s not just me,” McManus says. “I really, truly embrace that they allow me to pursue both of these things that mean so much to me.”
Her fellow nurses feel the same about McManus. “Meghara is a gem. She is the epitome of a team player and puts 100% into each and every shift,” says Mahoney. “Not only is she committed and dedicated to her nursing practice and her patients, but she is incredibly caring and thoughtful. Patients and families are lucky to be cared for by Meghara and on White 9 we are lucky to call her one of us.”
The Premiere Hockey Federation is now in its eighth season, and the salary cap and visibility of the league are rapidly increasing, says McManus, with about half of the players also working other jobs.
As for eventually making the jump to playing hockey full time, McManus isn’t quite there yet. For now, she’ll keep caring for patients by day, and playing for consistently sold-out home games each weekend.
“We have an amazing fan base and being able to be on that ice at Warrior Arena where so many young girls come watch is great,” says McManus. “I didn’t have this to look up to growing up, and I hope maybe one day these girls will be in my shoes, doing what they love.”