“I’ve always liked helping people. I’ve always taken care of people. I knew I was going to be a medical professional when I was 10 years old.”
That’s how Tamara Marie Marshall – call her Tammy, please – describes the start of her journey to a career in medicine.
She was especially drawn to the medical profession after doctors saved her grandfather’s life.
“I was gonna be a cardiothoracic surgeon and I knew at 10 years old,” she says with a laugh. “It sounds crazy, but my grandpa had a heart attack and I’m like, ‘How cool is it that these people brought him back so I get to hang out with my grandpa some more?’”
Thanks to that care, Marshall got to hang out with her grandfather for another 18 years after his heart attack.
Today, Marshall is an advanced practice nurse provider with Plastic Surgery & Skin Specialists by BayCare Clinic.
Cardiothoracic surgery or plastic surgery
The journey that took her from wanting to become a cardiothoracic surgeon to treating patients as a plastic surgery specialist was a winding one.
How did that happen?
“Buckle up,” she says, chuckling.
After high school, she attended the University of Wisconsin-Fond du Lac. It was close to her home in Pipe, on the east shore of Lake Winnebago. She earned an associate of applied science degree. She then attended Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay, earning an associate of science degree in nursing.
Marshall earned a bachelor’s degree from UW-Green Bay and a master’s degree in nursing from Bellin College. She is working on a doctor of nursing degree.
During each pivotal moment in her educational journey, something significant steered her away from her childhood plans for a career in cardiothoracic surgery and toward a career in plastic surgery.
“I found my faith in college and instead of going and walking for my graduation, I got baptized that day,” Marshall says. “I’m like, ‘Maybe there’s more to life than what I had initially planned.’”
Then she met her future husband. The couple moved to Green Bay, where they eventually were married.
Choosing a medical specialty
“Around this time there was a lot back and forth of, ‘What kind of doctor do I want to be?,” Marshall says.
Two children later and after stints working as a certified nursing assistant, a licensed practical nurse and as a registered nurse in a nursing home, Marshall ended up working in an operating room “because I always knew I wanted to be in the OR.”
She decided to forgo medical school and instead pursue a master’s degree.
“I found out I was pregnant with my third child the same day I got accepted for my master’s,” she says with a laugh.
As she finished her master’s program, a tip led her to an employment opportunity with a plastic surgeon’s office outside of Green Bay.
“I loved plastic surgery because … plastic surgery has everything,” she says.
Working outside of Green Bay wasn’t conducive to her work-life balance needs, so she sought an opportunity closer to home and found one with BayCare Clinic.
Marshall works under the supervision of physician, Dr. Steven Schmidt, and assists him in the OR. She sees patients for pre- and post-operative care. She also treats moles, cysts and lipomas and performs skin checks.
‘Treat people as people’
Marshall’s practice philosophy is simple.
“My goal isn’t just to develop a treatment plan and just have a checklist,” she says. “My goal is to treat people as people and to make them feel involved in their care.”
Out of the office, Marshall enjoys spending time with her husband and their four young children, maintaining a workout routine and painting in oil and acrylic.
“I had a piece in the Sturgeon Bay art exhibit last year. It’s hanging up at the Kavarna coffee shop right now,” she says.