“As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.”
A demanding career is no longer something that only applies to men. No, we've blown right through that glass ceiling! You know what else we can have? We can have it all!
Life is tough. We all know that. And after 2020, my gosh, do we really know that. You know what though? We're tougher. It's so easy to get caught up in all of the day to day nonsense - your career, housework, the kids, errands, keeping up with social media - you know, doing it all. Instead of thinking of having it all as something tangible or visible on the surface, make it a mindset.
The career you busted your behind to find success in? You earned that.
The house that always seems to be a mess? Your hard work bought that house for you.
The kids? They're your legacy and single greatest joy.
Those errands? Boy, they suck, but it's a great feeling to be able to provide for your family.
Social media? Yeah, we all look good there! ;)
My point is, look at what you already have - because you have it all! And when I think of people that have it all, I think of Gina. Gina has the career she's passionate about, a cozy home filled with family firsts and memories, and a sassy little girl that her and her husband can provide for. She's got it all.
What motivated you to become a nurse practitioner?
When I decided to become a nurse, I knew that I was on the right path, but what I didn't quite know at that time was where it would lead me. While in nursing school, I had a primary care visit and instead of seeing the doctor, I saw the nurse practitioner on staff. I felt my time with her was much more educational than my previous visits with the doctor.
I enjoyed many years of bedside nursing, but often found myself wondering how else I could help patients, and also grow personally as a provider. I decided that I was ready to further my career and use what I had learned to become an advanced practice nurse and nurse practitioner. After some tough years of school and clinical experience, I couldn’t be happier with my choice! What patient population are you most passionate about? Why?
My first job out of nursing school was in the Emergency Department at St. Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center in Chicago. I was there for an amazing 9 years with the best team who taught me so many invaluable lessons. I knew I always wanted to stay in the emergency setting and was lucky enough to start my Nurse Practitioner career at UI Health ER after I had my daughter in 2018.
With that being said, I would say I do love working in the ER! There is something about seeing and helping those who are in need of immediate care that is so fulfilling for me. It is a very stressful environment, tensions are often high, and it really does require a full team effort to have a great day! We see the most vulnerable patients - those underserved and underinsured, others sick, homeless and hungry. I often encounter those who have been abused, in shock due to an accident or very sick due to an underlying issue. In the ER, we see all and care for all. Our main goal is to let our patients know we are there to help and happy to help them. Medical care is stressful for so many people, so we try our best to make it a positive experience. What have been some of the most rewarding aspects of being a nurse practitioner?
In the ER, one of my jobs is to see patients when they first arrive for care. They will see a triage nurse and APN (Advanced Practice Nurse) and we perform a short exam and help get their care started with orders appropriate for their presentation. I feel this is a great part of my job as it will helps provide expedited care for when the patient is assigned a room and sees another provider to continue their care and diagnosis. Being a part of the 1st team that sees the patient when they come to us is the first step in the journey. I believe this sets the tone for their stay in the ER and we hope that we make a good connection with our patients.
As an APN in the ER, I am also part of the provider team. I see patients that may need an X-ray, sutures, or simple procedures, such as an abdominal pain work up. I am able to work independently but often consult our amazing physician staff to ensure the best care to patients if they have more complex diagnoses or need admission. Knowing our physicians respect us as APNs as a part of the provider team is so incredibly rewarding!
What makes a good Nurse Practitioner?
I believe it is so important to remember that I was a nurse first. I love being a nurse and nurse practitioner. I wouldn't have done it any other way.
Using listening, assessment, and education skills is the basis of nursing, making our interaction with our patients extra special. In my opinion, it would be incredibly beneficial for any nurse to have a few years of experience before diving into an advanced degree.
Its awesome to see the role Nurse Practictioners are filling in the healthcare system, especially at this time. We have become a crucial piece to the puzzle!
Your daughter comes up to you in 15 years and says she wants to become a nurse practitioner. Given the current climate with the challenges and dangers of being a healthcare provider, would you encourage or discourage her? Why or why not?
I would encourage her that she can be whatever she wants to be.
My mom was a nurse and never pushed myself, or any of my siblings, into going into anything specifically. She always encouraged us to find a path that made us happy. Truthfully, I had my fill of switching majors in college until I truly realized what I wanted for my career. Creating my own path really helped me to really love what I do now.
Our world is definitely a scary place right now, in more ways than one. COVID-19 is a virus we are learning something new about every day. The long term effects are unknown and just the possibility of bringing it home and infecting my loved ones weighs heavy on me daily. I set these fears aside, protect myself to the best of my ability and go to work, and know in my heart I am meant to be there providing care and comfort to those who are not as fortunate as me. My only hope is that my daughter finds a career path as fulfilling as being a nurse practitioner is for me.
Gina, thank you for all of your work to keep the community safe and healthy, while putting yourself and your family at risk while doing so. Your dedication to your role in the health care industry is truly appreciated! Thank you for making a difference!
Do you have a woman you'd like to nominate for a feature? Please email me at email@example.com.
Stay safe and healthy,