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Author: Heidi Prescott

BMG athletic trainer named to Forty Under 40

Kara Werner-Sanders, Beacon Medical Group Sports Medicine, has been named to Michiana’s Forty Under 40 class of 2018. Kara is head athletic trainer and an adjunct instructor at Indiana University South Bend. The South Bend Regional Chamber of Commerce recognized Kara and the other honorees at a recent luncheon. Forty Under 40 launched in 2007 as a way to honor the accomplishments of young regional leaders. Recipients are selected based on the following criteria: initiative and dedication in pursuing their career; proven success and achievement in their job or career; passion for their community, and giving back because of...

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Elkhart General honors organ donors

Every time a patient donates organs or tissue, a new Donate Life flag is flown outside Elkhart General Hospital to raise awareness and serve as a tribute to that person and his or her family. After all, one organ donor can save eight lives. And one tissue donor can impact as many as 75 people. Elkhart General recently raised its Donate Life flag for the first time since becoming part of the nationwide initiative. Memorial Hospital has been raising its flag to recognize these heroic men and women last summer. After the flag is raised, an organ donor’s family...

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“I never realized the impact it makes”

More than 1,860 GEM (Go the Extra Mile) associates last year contributed more than $239, 100 to help fund different departments across Beacon Health System. Those departments included:  Art therapy, music therapy and Child Life at Beacon Children’s Hospital The new home for Beacon Children’s Hospital Outdoor pavilion with additional enhancements at Elkhart General Cardiac rehabilitation equipment at Elkhart General Cuddle cot and Bose sound systems at Memorial Hospital and equipment to enhance patient experience at Elkhart General Scholarships to both Elkhart General and Memorial associates Enhanced security and patient experience at the Neighborhood Health Centers Rehabilitation equipment at...

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Say “thanks” to our nurses

Want to give the nurses who work in your department or on your unit or team a shout-out for National Nurses Week?Email us @TheBeam@beaconhealthsystem.org and we’ll post your message here!   For the sacrifices you make… “In honor of Nurse’s Week, we would like to thank all of our amazing nurses and nurse practitioners who work tirelessly to provide our patients and families with high quality, compassionate care. We know that you work long hours, often staying over or giving up your own lunches to ensure the needs of those you care for are met. You sacrifice time away...

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100 nurses share heartfelt stories

     Many of us dream about finding a job we feel passionate about. About finding a way to make a difference in the lives of others. About finding our “calling” the same way most nurses find theirs.      For Nurses Week, we embarked on a special project that would both recognize and honor the women and men who have found their calling. They care for us when we are sick. They hold our hand and comfort us, support us, and pray with us when our loved ones are sick.      We asked 100 Beacon nurses to...

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Free car seats and booster seats for all kids who need them.

When: 9 a.m. to noon tomorrow (Saturday), May 19
Where: 824 S. Mayflower Road, South Bend, in the St. Joseph Funeral Home parking lot at the corner of Sample and Mayflower.
Questions: Call 574-647-1804, press 1, for questions.

*Child using the seat must be present.
*Parent/caregiver must participate with the Certified Child Passenger Safety Tech at the event.
*Sponsored by: Beacon Children's Hospital, South Bend Fire/EMS, South Bend Police, Memorial Trauma Team.
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Happy Mother’s Day from Beacon Health System Community Health! We are so happy to serve moms and moms-to-be across our community. In the spirit of the occasion, we put together some handy tips, tricks and advice for new and experienced mothers. Check it out! ... See MoreSee Less

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Jessica Jamison, RN
Elkhart General Hospital

"I started out my college studies in pre-pharmacy at the University of Iowa. I had always dreamed of becoming a pharmacist growing up. My freshman year, like for most students, was all about exploring new things and figuring out who I really wanted to become. I was not enjoying all the extensive biology and chemistry classes and labs, so I started asking fellow students what they were studying. My counselor suggested I job shadow a pharmacist and also see if I could get into the hospital to  volunteer to see what other health care professions I would be interested in. I did as directed and I will never forget the day I went to volunteer at the hospital. I was so amazed at the size of The University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics, I couldn't wait to see first-hand what nursing was all about. I had the most wonderful day in the Mother-Baby Unit, mostly helping new mothers get anything they needed, helping rock and feed the babies, and best of all, following around a nurse. I went home that evening and immediately knew I was called to become a nurse after such a great day. I knew right then and there I wanted to help people in all aspects of nursing. The next week I had a job as a nursing assistant, where I floated to many units in the hospital enjoying any time I could help a patient, even if it was just for someone for them to talk to. I currently work in the Main OR at Elkhart General Hospital and love my job very much!"

Elizabeth Schalliol, RN
Beacon Medical Group

"When asked why I became a nurse, it's hard to think about as you suddenly start counting the years you have been a nurse. Amazingly, I have been a nurse for 22 years and a nurse practitioner for 10 years. I don't know that I ever had a 'ah ha' moment in my childhood that I wanted to be a nurse, but I remember being intrigued with my cousin Jason who had spina bifida. He was one year younger then me, and he and my cousins would often come to visit on their many trips to Children's hospital in Chicago. It amazed me the amount of compassion the nurses had when caring for him through His many shunt revisions and other surgeries. It was their personal touches that made a difference to him and his family.

"I initially thought I would a be a teacher like my mother, but nursing won me over. The 'ah ha' moment came in my junior year at Purdue University when I was in my Obstetrics rotation. During those clinical rotations, my passion for women's health came alive. Fortunately, after graduation I was given the opportunity to be a labor and delivery nurse at Memorial. After eight years, I returned to graduate school to obtain my master's at IUPUI to  pursue my desire to be a women's health nurse practitioner.

"Oh, the memories and the patients who have taught me how to care. The tears and joy that nursing brings is so rewarding. I only hope that I am able to continue my journey in nursing and continue to show love and concern to my patients."

Julie Pollock, RN
Elkhart General Hospital

"I took a nursing assistant class my junior year in high school and that is what really told me 'that was the place for me'.

"It made me realize how much I really did care about people. One day at our small town hospital when I was in NA training I happen to take care of my history teacher. I  didn’t realize it was him by just getting my report that had his full name, so I was quit surprised when I entered his room. He wasn’t in the hospital for long, I think I just  took care of him for three days. I assured him the first day that I would respect his privacy and not tell any other students about him being in the hospital or any of his medical information and asked permission if he would be OK I took care of him. At the end of those three days with him, he told me that I was very gentle, caring and kind hearted  and that I should go to school to become a nurse after I graduated. I also at that  time happen to be a very pregnant 17 year old. I felt out of place as it was, especially back in 1986, and he made me feel good about myself and that I can still go to college and have a meaningful career even though the situation I was in at that time in my life. I ended up finishing that junior year with a 1-week-old baby, finished the next year with my graduating class and started taking prerequisites for the nursing program the month after graduation."

Mary Miller, RN
Elkhart General Hospital

"When I became a nurse many years ago, my intent was to support, make a difference, and help people. As a nurse of 33 years, my intent is still the same.  Patients and families increasingly rely on nurses to provide safe care, explain complex information, and provide the emotional support that is needed during a vulnerable period of coping with an illness or health condition. Providing this type of care allows me to grow as an individual, witness  the strength of the human spirit, and celebrate life in all stages. I value being a nurse more than ever."

Katie Lamberson, RN
Elkhart General Hospital

"What do you want to do when you grow up? That is the question everyone is asked, from early childhood until even college. For me, this was an easier choice than others, I had the privilege of being a 'rainbow baby' as it is now called.

"My sister, Jamie, was born to my mother and father in 1992, everything was thought to be fine, the pregnancy was flawless. While in the OR for a scheduled C-section, my mother knew something was wrong when the doctors got silent and she did not hear Jamie crying. She was able to take a quick glance at the fresh baby in the room, this baby who should be pink and crying but instead was blue and not breathing well. After the nurses rushed Jamie out of the OR, my mother was left on the table to finish the C-section with all the questions in the world but no answers. No one was talking to my mother or father for a while, after a bit they came to their room and told them that they have to transfer Jamie to Memorial due to her not getting better. When my mother was discharged they rushed to Memorial to see their baby girl for really the first time since she was born. At Memorial they could not do anything for Jamie either, but at least my parents got some answers while they were there. Jamie was born with Hypo-Plastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS), which the doctors that could help her were at Riley's Children's hospital. So my parents were once again separated from Jamie, these separations were taking a toll on my parents.

"But once they got to Riley's everyone was wonderful and understanding that their world had just been turned upside down. My mother was taking it the hardest, and a nurse named Janice noticed this. Janice went out of the way for my family and made sure that everything they needed and never thought that they needed was met. Janice not only took care of my family in the present and helped them though the death of their second born child, but this nurse stayed in touch with my mother months after Jamie had passed. Janice sent letters to my mother checking up on her, personal letters that were hand written and sealed in an envelope. Janice was a lifesaver to my parents in the time of what should have been joy and happiness but instead was filled with emotions no one could ever describe.

"Fast forward to 13 years later when I was 12 and going through all the momentous that my parents had kept from my sister. I found Janice's letters, I was curious about them so upon reading them tears filled my eyes. I was so grateful that in the time of need and what most likely felt like abandonment that there was Janice that helped pull my mother back. I do whole hearted believe that she was with my mother and father through this process was heaven sent and was there to show them that this was not the end but the beginning of something new. I have always since then strived to make that impact on my patients and their families. I want to show them that no matter what they are feeling now there is a plan for after. I want to be the nurse that can sit in the room with a crying patient and just listen and relate to be that ear or that warm body in the room that they need."

Kristin Wallace, LPN
Beacon Medical Group

"I don’t remember the exact moment that I knew nursing was the career for me, but I do remember quite a few moments that have solidified the reason I do this every day. The most memorable is very close to my heart. With being a nurse i had been begging my mother to keep up with her mammogram. She always said, 'If something is wrong, I don’t want to know.' With many years of pushing her, she finally got one done. We didn’t receive the best news. After repeats, diagnostic tests, etc., she received news of cancer. She was devastated, as was I. I had just told my mom that there was nothing to worry about. After all was said and done, we caught this at the 'in-situ' stage and she was able to take care of it with just a lumpectomy. This taught her and I much about preventative medicine and TEACHING. So whether you’re a nurse in the ER taking care of tragedies, or just doing simple education, we’re all capable of saving lives and making a huge impact and that’s what this journey is all about."

Dina Gasaway, RN
Beacon Medical Group LaPorte

"My father died of cancer when I was 13 years old. I wanted to work in healthcare and find a cure for cancer, but somehow got on a different path... 1999 was a busy year. I was pregnant with my third child and completing a BS in Organizational Leadership and an Industrial Engineering Associates degree in addition to working full-time. With utmost respect I told my Quality Control Professor that I thought I might pursue a nursing degree after these two. But that did not go over well. The following semester, I enrolled in the Associate RN program at Purdue University Northwest and have enjoyed every minute of helping people be the healthiest they can be using my nursing education. There is not a more honorable and rewarding career. Now my daughter is an NICU nurse and I know I took the right path."

Amanda Huff, RN
Elkhart General Hospital

"I became a nurse after I had my daughter. I had always wanted to be a nurse since I was a little girl but I had never been brave enough to actually pursue this dream.. A fear of failure seemed so overwhelming that I didn't even consider it a possibility. However, when my daughter was born I dreamed of what I wanted her life to be. I wanted her to be strong, brave, kind, compassionate and here I was letting a fear keep me from my own dream of being a nurse. So when my daughter was 9 months old I started the nursing program at Southwestern Michigan College. I was scared but I knew if I wanted my daughter to grow up to be strong then I had to be a living example for her. Though it was difficult going to nursing school with young children it was completely worth it. I now have a job that I enjoy where I get to touch people's lives in a way others never get the chance. I get to comfort those with difficult diagnosis', and rejoice with those who have overcome a rough treatment regimen. I love my job as an oncology nurse and I pray that not only my daughter but my two sons will see that being brave is half the battle when pursuing your dreams."

Emmy Ettl, RN
Memorial Hospital

"I always knew I wanted to be in a helping profession. I chose nursing. I went to Memorial School of Nursing, obtained by diploma and was working as a graduate nurse when I was 20. I started on Ortho and really enjoyed getting to know my patients. After a few years, I transferred to NICU and then lactation. A few years ago, I was taking care of a new mom and her baby. The grandfather came in and recognized me as the nurse that took care of him 35 years earlier. He told me how much he appreciated everything I did for him. When the grandfather was a patient all those years ago, his wife was pregnant -- with the father of the new baby."

Jessie Alber
Elkhart General Hospital

"After graduating from nursing school, I started on the cardiac floor and became fond of the speciality. I came to shadow in CVR and instantly knew I wanted to be in the procedural area. The teamwork and camaraderie of the staff is what drew me to this area and is why I plan to stay."

Holly Tobolski
Memorial Hospital 

"Nursing was always something I was interested in, but one specific instance with a family member made the decision a definite one for me.

"When my grandmother became sick and was admitted to the hospital, my mom and aunts spent a lot of time visiting. They felt as though they had to be at the hospital all the time, to the point that it took a toll on their personal lives. I can recall one nurse in particular that was very kind, informative, and caring. She made my family feel comfortable and helped them to know that their loved one was in good hands. She told them they needed to go home and take care of themselves, and she would take care of my grandmother. These were very important words to my family, and they finally felt some relief by being reassured that everything was under control and my grandmother was being cared for.

"We were all very appreciative to this nurse for that sense of comfort. I can remember thinking to myself "I want to be able to do that for families in their time of need." So, knowing that I already wanted to be a nurse, my decision was validated by knowing that I wanted to help in the same way this nurse had helped my family.

"Now, as a nurse, I try my best to be communicative and ensure that people know their loved one is being well cared for, and that they trust I will update them and keep them informed the best way I can, because while nursing is about the patients, it is also about their families."

Rikki Collins, RN
Elkhart General Hospital

"When I was a young girl, my Dad was paralyzed in a motorcycle accident, which left him a quadriplegic. My Mom became his caretaker; I grew up watching her. She was taught how to be his nurse while he was in the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago for six months for rehab. Dad came home and she just took over. Mom, to this day, has never had any outside help in caring for my Dad. He maintained quite a bit of his independence because of her: He lives at home, returned to work, drives his own van, etc. She inspired me to become a nurse. I wanted to help others in a way not everyone is willing to do. I saw marriages and families fall apart because of injuries like his, but my family became stronger."

Patricia Grant
Beacon Medical Group

"I enrolled in nursing school at the age of 35. My husband's health was failing and I knew I needed to think about taking care of myself and my children. I chose nursing as a career because I wanted to be a part of and contribute to my community, as well as secure my financial future. I graduated from IUSB in 1996 and my husband passed away in 2002. I have met countless wonderful patients along the way and have never regretted my decision to pursue a career in nursing. 

"I remember having a patient at Memorial Hospital on the morning of Barack Obama's initial inauguration. She was a blind 90-year-old African American woman and in poor health. I held her hand during the ceremony and described everything for her, especially about how the women were dressed. I felt very honored to share this special moment with her."

Elizabeth Kuntz, CA ICC
Elkhart General Hospital

"In high school I was required to do twenty service hours during the year. I chose to do mine in the hospital because I had an interest in medicine and knew it was a place I could learn. I was terrified at first when interacting with patients and nurses because I was a high school student and felt so out of place. But, each week I gained more confidence and loved it. I finished all my required hours for school in a few weeks and continued volunteering at the hospital weekly all through high school and college. 

"Now I’m a senior in nursing school and work as a SNAP on ICC at EGH. I often reflect on what I have learned as a volunteer and as a SNAP from the patients I have had the pleasure of interacting with and the wonderful nurses who have taught me so much and keep cheering me along as I finish nursing school. I’m grateful to be part of such a wonderful place to work as a volunteer, SNAP, and one day as a nurse."

Flor Valdez-Salazar, RN
Elkhart General Hospital

"When I was 9 years old, my grandpa had 2 strokes. After his first stroke he was not able to move his right lower extremity. My aunt Martha was caring for him, but after his first stroke she requested additional help from family so they ended up moving to my parent's house. My grandpa was my best friend, I helped care for him since he moved in. Unfortunately 6 months later he had a second stroke and this time it affected his speech and he was paralyzed from his neck down. He lived two more years after his second stroke. During that time my grandfather was a total care. We had to turn him Q2H, he ended up developing stage four PUs and his left leg became gangrenous. Every day after school I went straight to see him and to help my aunt change his dressings and clean him up. I remember reading bed stories to him every night and for two years I slept on the floor in his room just to be around if he needed any help.

"The night he died my aunt did not let me sleep in his room because all day he was struggling with his breathing, it sounded like he was drowning, they knew the time was coming so they send me to my parents room to sleep with them. Around 2am I heard a knock at my parents door, it was my aunt to let us know that my grandfather was dying. I ran  into the room and was able to see him before he died. Once he died I helped my aunt get him cleaned up and dress. That was my first time caring for a body.

"During those two years I became interested in medicine,  I was always searching the web for ways to better care for him, I even went out to the store and used all my savings to buy an anatomy and terminology CD for my computer to learn as much as I could. By the time I was 14, I knew I wanted to be a nurse. When I was 15, I moved to the USA where I attended Memorial high school and found out that they offered  CNA classes at the Elkhart Career Center so I decided to enroll, and that is how my nursing journey started.

Keith Christopher
Memorial Hospital

"While transporting a patient from helipad to emergency room, a flight nurse/medic asked what I was planning to do as the next step in my career. I told him I was going to go to paramedic school. He asked if I had thought about nursing school, and I replied that I hadn't and enjoyed transporting patients anyway. The flight nurse/medic replied, 'You don't want to be 'hurking' gurneys all your life do you? If you don't like it, you can always come back to paramedic and might be able to do both someday.' I told them I would look into it, and that was that. I never saw them again, don't even remember their name, but here I am today.

 "I'd like to find them and let them know I'm still 'hurking' gurneys anyway."

Mendy Dendy, RN
Elkhart General Hospital

"I started caring for patients as an aide in a nursing home many years ago. A part time job that turned out to be so much more. It's during that time I chose to become a nurse.

"Each patient has a diagnosis that drives our care. I wanted to study anatomy, pathophysiology, learn about various treatment options, procedures, medications, clinical skills. To this day, the science keeps my interest, keeps my mind challenged. Making those connections and what I get back from giving fills my heart and soul and drives my dedication to my profession. To be a nurse is so much more than many can understand.

"Each patient has their own story, influences, challenges, needs. They come to us very sick, stressed, vulnerable. We work to develop trust, maintain their dignity, provide education & advocate on their behalf. We support them in their journey to recovery, share their joy and offer comfort for those suffering through heartbreaking situations, grief and death.

"I'm blessed to be a nurse and very grateful to work with staff who not only value our patients but also value one another."

"Nursing is the hardest job you will ever love!"

Jessica Weaver, RN
Elkhart General Hospital

“My reason to become a nurse was two-fold, my grandfather was an ED physician at Memorial and very well respected in the community. He was an instrument of hope behind his stethoscope, I wanted to honor his memory and provide even a fraction of the hope he provided to his patients. The second reason was to be the hands and feet of Christ to my patients and their families; it is such an honor to care for and pray with my patients who request it; some of my comfort care patients have allowed me to wash their feet.”

Amy Allsop, RN
Memorial Hospital

"After high school and my first year and a half of college, I wasn't entirely sure what direction to go with my studies. I was always drawn to the medical field, but also enjoyed the business field due to a part time summer job that I had held. After some research, I decided to switch colleges and I received my Associate's Degree in Medical Assisting. This allowed me to work in a physician's office  -- Lakeville Family Medicine for 5 years -- and gain experience in both the 'front' and 'back' office of the practice. I loved the patient care, drawing labs, doing EKG's, assisting with minor office procedures, and seeing a wide range of healthy and ill patients from newborns to the elderly. I worked beside Cynthia Heckman-Davis, MD and learned so much from her.

"One Saturday around noon, our office hours were wrapping up when a pregnant patient came in for a labor check. Sure enough, she was in active labor and Dr. Heckman-Davis sent her on to the hospital. I asked if I could go with her and observe the delivery and she said I could. Once we got to the hospital, Dr. Heckman-Davis explained the labor and delivery process to me using a doll and fake pelvis that were in the doctor's lounge. The patient progressed quickly and it wasn't long before I was witnessing my first miracle of birth. It was an amazing experience. Not long after, I went back to school for my nursing degree knowing without a doubt what I wanted to do. I have been a labor and delivery nurse now for 11 years and credit that Saturday morning when Dr. Heckman-Davis let me tag along with her, solidifying my career choice."

Laura Mecklenburg, RN
Beacon Corporate


"There are so many reasons that I became a nurse but this dream began when I was 6 years old. When I was six years old I was having intermittent abdominal pain. Pain that started every morning and would make me double over with and causing me to miss school -- I hated missing school. The pain always went away after a few hours only to return in the next morning.  I was soon hospitalized for testing. I was young, scared and alone -- this was when parents did not spend the night with children -- and every night the same nurse would come to my room and explain everything that was going to happen the next day and what it would feel like -- and she told me when things would be unpleasant like swallowing barium prep (this was the early 70’s and we have come a long way). She would sit and watch TV with me, play games with me and help me calm down until I was asleep. A few days into my stay my parents were unable to visit because they already had tickets for a family outing. The same nurse who visited me every night allowed my uncle and his girlfriend to stay with me well after visiting hours and she turned her head away when they snuck me treats that were not on my ‘prescribed diet’. While at that time I did not know what I know now about empathy, what I did know is that I wanted to do what she did someday. That dream never died and I have always made it my mission to make the hospital experience less painful and dreary."

Misty Harding, RN
Memorial Hospital


"I remember in 4th grade that I wanted to be in the medical field, specifically radiology. My mother was diagnosed with cancer and spent a lot of time in the hospital and many hours in MRI. I remember the anxiety she had each time an MRI was ordered. I wanted to be someone there to help patients when they were feeling the same anxiety my mom felt. During a career day at school, we got to choose the fields we thought we wanted to work in. Without a doubt, I chose the medical field. During the career day, we got to dress up and spend a day in that field. It was everything I thought I wanted to do. My mom passed away two years later. I couldn't picture myself in a hospital setting any longer. I didn't want to relive those moments with anyone else. Fast forward 20 years. My dad was living in Southern Indiana and I in Northern Indiana. I received a phone call he was in the ICU and had a stroke. Things were not looking good for him so I hopped in my car and prepared myself for a 5 hour car ride. What would I see? How would I handle it? When I got just south of Indy, I got a phone call that my father had passed away. The nurse that called assured me she was with him the entire time. She held his hand, prayed with him, sang to him, and tried everything she could to keep him until I had arrived. She stayed 2 hours after her shift until I had arrived. She hugged me and cried with me. I had never met her until that moment and she still showed so much compassion and empathy. At that moment, I knew I needed to change my career from being a banker back to the medical field. I applied for nursing and was accepted that Fall.  With every day that I work I think about the nurse that held my father's hand until he took his last breath and hope I am able to make a difference in the lives of my patients and their families, as that nurse did to mine."

Laura Meyer, RN
Memorial Hospital

"When you choose a career, you make a decision about how you will spend most of your time during the week. With my personality I knew that the time I spent working couldn’t be repetitious. I wanted to learn new things, meet people, and be challenged in my thinking. As I guessed, nursing was the perfect career for me. There are thousands of ways to use that nursing degree, countless patients to care about, endless skills to use each day as no two shifts are alike. During every shift I have 12.5 hours to meet new people, learn about their lives, and meet their needs physically, emotionally, even spiritually. I may never have the same patients again, and this is the limited time God gives me to get to know each person’s unique story that affects their health in some way. I learn along with my patients as I care for them, and I help them and their families learn how to make positive changes in their health which affects all areas of their lives. I didn’t have a single personal story that led me into nursing, but I have hundreds of personal stories that have kept me enjoying my career. I have never regretted the decision to be a nurse."

Ashley Anglemyer, RN
Elkhart General Hospital


"I did not always want to be a nurse. But I have always known that I have a passion for lifting the burden of others. I started my work at a non-profit organization and thought I wanted to do social work, but it wasn't until a close friend of mine complimented my friendly disposition and selflessness and stated 'You should be a nurse'. That was my waking moment. Despite the challenges that nursing presents on a daily basis, I am reminded often of why I chose this profession. Many people require the care of a nurse in their most vulnerable moments, and this is where I find my time to shine and connect with others. I feel great pride when I can help my patients, and it is a remarkable feeling knowing I made a difference in even just one person's day. Receiving a handshake, or even better, a hug from a patient or loved one, is one of the most rewarding things about being a nurse. Ultimately, I became a nurse because of the people I have opportunities to connect with and care for every day."

Judy Giden, LPN
Beacon Medical Group

"From childhood, I always wanted to be a nurse but was a little unsure of myself. A friend of mine who was completing nursing school gave me the encouragement I needed to go through with it and I enrolled immediately. I have had such a rewarding experience working with pregnant women and their families. My heart just melts when I see the smiles on their faces when they hear their baby's heartbeat for the first time, or find out the gender of the baby, speaking with the siblings about the new baby to come, and hearing their birth stories. Unfortunately, losses are a part of their lives and even though it is a sad moment, it is such an honor to help and support them through that grieving process. To me being a nurse is like being a Mom, its a 24 hour a day job and I wouldn't trade it for anything."

Jennifer Swain, RN
Elkhart General Hospital


"The reason that I became a nurse didn’t generate from one story or one person changing my life. I became a nurse because throughout my life I have always put other people’s needs above my own and I have always wanted to make people better. Better physically, but also mentally and emotionally. However, I think the reasons that I continue to be a nurse far out numbers the reasons for becoming one. For example, after taking care of a patient for several months while they were on the brink of dying multiple times, for them to later walk themselves back into the hospital just to thank me for everything I have done. Or to be there for the family while their loved one is passing away so I can not only tend to the patient’s last needs but also the family’s. Or to receive a young patient after their heart abruptly stopped at home, thinking they were never going to make it. Then later transferring them out of the unit and being able to thank her son for saving her life because he started CPR immediately at home, while he thanked me for keeping her alive after. There are many days that I leave physically and emotionally drained but the pros from the career I chose far out number the cons and those moments are what make me realize that I have chosen the best career for me."

Kelli Breden
Elkhart General Hospital

"At 40 years old, we were sitting in the surgery waiting room while our son had surgery after breaking his ankle at college and I mentioned to my husband that I should go back to school for nursing.  He said 'sure'. That was February 2002, I started classes that August.

"I had worked in orthodontics for 25+ years, 18 years in the same office and was feeling unhappy and stuck. I wanted to do something that felt like I was making a difference in someone’s life as well as my own. I love the flexibility, and opportunities to learn and work doing many different things. I love my work family, and the way we all have each others backs and work together to help our patients and families.

"I participated in the SNAP program here at EGH and accepted my one and only position in OB /NICU after graduation. I have worked at EGH for 14 years and love what I do, caring for Mom’s and Babies. Even after the craziest of days it feels so good to know I helped someone.

"One patient story that stands out... We had a baby in the NICU a few years ago that was having some health issues, after several tests it was determined that he had a thyroid problem and needed to be on medication. The medication only came in a pill form and in a much larger dose that a newborn would need. Mom did not have any means of transportation and was new to the area so not much of a support system. I contacted a pharmacy in Elkhart and helped her arrange for the medication to be delivered to her apartment and stopped one morning on my way to work and got her a pill crusher so that we could help her learn how to prepare the medicine for her baby prior to discharge. Several months ago she had another baby, and told another nurse how grateful she was that I helped her get the medicine she needed for her  son. It was something very small but had a huge impact on this Mom."

Shelly Graverson, RN
Beacon Medical Group

"I chose to become a nurse as my second career in life. So with three daughters ranging in age from 1 year to 9 years, and a husband, off to college I went. It was a difficult journey, but with my families support I graduated top of the RN class and never looked back. Originally, I thought that I wanted to be a labor and delivery nurse, but was offered a position in Pediatrics at EGH. I very shortly knew I had found my passion. I had admired my cousin who has been a RN at Riley Children’s Hospital for 30 years, and I now completely understood her drive and love of helping ill children and their families! I can truly say that over my now 21 years as a pediatric nurse I have never had a day that I am not excited to go to work. Now as the clinical supervisor at BMG-Pediatrics Bristol Street I am able to work with an entire team of wonderful doctors and nurses to provide the best Pediatric care in Indiana."

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” -- Helen Keller

Karen Newcomer, RN
Beacon Medical Group


"Most nurses will agree that they chose the profession because they enjoy helping people. I have to agree with this sentiment. However, there are plenty of professions where you can help people. For me nursing is special because you see people at some of their best and worst moments in life. It is an honor to be able to be by somebody’s side when they are experiencing these moments."

Christina Oleksak
Beacon Medical Group

"When my dad was dying of cancer back in the 80's, he was in New York at a hospital there and he was having trouble breathing. My sister asked the staff in the ER to help him. His oxygen level was low, so they put a mask on him to help him breathe and it was placed incorrectly. My sister asked if the nurse could reapply it and she tightened it and my dad winced. My sister told them it was hurting him, but the nurse she said she did it right. She told him if he wanted to, he could loosen it himself. He said 'No, that's OK,' in such a weak voice. She then snapped the mask on his face and said, 'Suit yourself, honey.' When I saw the suffering my dad had to endure, even with nursing staff, I vowed I would become a nurse and I would never, ever let this happen to anyone ever again. I did become a nurse and I have had many years to make right what happened to my dad in New York."

Emily Collins, RNC
Memorial Hospital 

"I worked at Camp Millhouse for several years -- through college and beyond -- and it held a very special place in my heart. During the summer of 2007, as I sat in the Resident Manager cabin after an evening program, I started brainstorming about camp and its future direction, and wondering what role I would play. I could see myself becoming the Executive Director someday, and decided that the two most helpful degrees to pursue would be business and nursing. Long story short(er), I decided to pursue nursing.

"My original motivation was to be an asset to Camp, but many things confirmed my decision. A close family member spent most of August 2007 hospitalized, and I had the chance to observe (and admire) his nursing staff in action. Setting foot on an inpatient unit during my first clinical rotation was another "aha" moment for me. I knew I was where I was meant to be."

Bev Teegarden, RN
Memorial Hospital

"I really don’t know why I decided to become a nurse. How’s that for someone who has loved the profession for 48 years? My cousin and I always talked about growing up and becoming nurses. We were going to work together on a cruise ship, dude ranch, or other exciting places where we could be nurses. You know, looking for the exciting life. We were also going to live side-by-side in a ‘duplex’. Well, none of that happened, but we both did become nurses.

"I loved taking care of patients and working with families, however, I began to realize that my real passion was working with nurses to facilitate change and to support the valuable care they deliver at the bedside. Nurses are change leaders at the bedside. The voice of the bedside nurse is so very important. What drives me is being that change agent and advocate for the incredible nursing staff and care givers."

Lois McDonald, RN
Beacon Corporate

"I was always picking up sick cats or rabbits I found to take them home and care for them much to the chagrin of my parents. When I in 6th grade I had gone to the nursing home with my mother and grandmother to visit my great aunt. I got bored so decided to walk around and see the other patients. I would say hi to them and see their faces brighten and nod or say hi back. When I returned to my great aunt's room my grandmother exclaimed, 'Oh, you’re so good with these old sick people, you should be a nurse’.  I was like – OK.

"I joined Future Nurses Association in high school; in middle school I was so fascinated with A & P I tried having ‘classes’ for the neighbor kids on summer break. Needless to say, they weren’t interested. But I also found I loved to teach. I have been an RN for 47 years – in everything from hemo and peritoneal dialysis, critical care step down, agency and community mental health, nursing education, hospice and now Documentation in Corporate coding. There are always hard days and better days, but I have always loved nursing and never regretted it. The many friends I have met & made along the way has been priceless.  I even had a family approach me in a restaurant and remembered me from caring for their parent.   

"My favorite times were doing PT teaching of their disease and treatments, bedside care -- even the bed bath -- and doing Healing Touch to help a patient relax and lessen their anxiety. It has been a long and rewarding journey for me and I will always treasure my memories and friends along the way. Nurses are the most caring, awesome heartfelt people in the world."

Willie Moffett, RN
Elkhart General Hospital


"I started in 1985. I started in housekeeping and worked there for 5 years. I moved into surgery and became an orderly. I worked there for 10 years. At that time, I went to Nursing School. For 12 years, I worked in the GI department and I was in charge. I needed and change and some new experiences, so I became a Cath Lab nurse. The biggest plus is ... I work closely to my wife."

Rosalia Atuan
Elkhart General Hospital

"If there's one remarkable phrase I've heard repeated over and over by dedicated and compassionate nurses as to why they chose nursing as their profession, it is that 'nursing is a calling'. 

"There are a variety of reasons for choosing nursing as a profession, such as fair compensation, strong demand, and numerous paths for advancement. For some, more personal reasons such as the belief that serving as a nurse allows them to help their fellow man, is the inspiration.

"My motivation to pursue a career related to nursing started at a very young age, in witnessing so many people in the place where I grew up struggle without help. It is a village where there was only one midwife giving assistance to almost a thousand individuals. The lack of medical personnel, vaccines and medications resulted in more complicated health problems. Like, for instance, a simple cough led to pneumonia and other respiratory diseases. Years after passing the nursing board examination, I volunteered to a public hospital which was a forty five minute ride from where I lived.

"It was a wonderful feeling that, in my own little way, I was able to contribute to the community where aid and care were desperately needed."

Roxie Schertz, RN
Elkhart General Hospital

"My grandfather died at 72 of a heart attack. I was only 16 years old and I remember the pain of losing him. Then my grandmother died of unknown reasons. I loved her so much. My father and I went to see her in the hospital and she said she was refusing any further tests. I asked her if she wanted her back rubbed and she said, 'Yes, please do'. So I rubbed her back and she loved it so much. I thought it must have been a long time since anyone had rubbed her back or even touched her since my grandpa died. I was very young but their deaths affected me and I wanted to become a nurse to bring comfort to people when they are at their most vulnerable time in life. I work in Oncology presently and people deal with bad news very valiantly and with a lot of grace. My hope is to lighten their load and be a nurse who is a comforter to them as they are an example of strength and dignity to me."

Sarah O'Hara-Spurrier
Memorial Hospital

"From the time I was a young girl, I have always loved helping people and solving problems for others. Growing up in a family with a parent as a healthcare worker, I was able to visualize how helpful nurses are to others. My mother had been a nurse my entire life. She was always very helpful in the community and in our church. She would stay after mass to help take blood pressures for parishioners and lend a helpful ear to listen to others or a helpful hand to assist people whenever they needed it. She was the "go-to" person for any medical questions. I thought to myself that nursing is a perfect way to make a difference in peoples lives and help them through their most trying times.

"When I was in nursing school, my grandfather had a massive stroke. The whole experience showed me how precious life can be and how much those who work in healthcare can play a role in the patient's life. Once my grandfather was stable enough to the leave the hospital, he had to stay a short amount of time at an extended healthcare facility. After that, my family made it a priority to get him home and in our care. We were lucky enough to have him with us for 4 more years. My desire as a nurse is to take care of my patients as if they are part of my own family or as I would want my own family member to be treated. I became a nurse because I was brought up in an environment that helped cultivate my desire to make a positive impact on each and every person that I come in contact with."

Sarah Grimslid, RN
Elkhart General Hospital

"I chose nursing because I wanted a career where every time I end my shift, I know I've made a positive impact on someone's life. I remember talking with my grandpa and him reflecting on a hospital stay. What stuck out to him the most was when he slid down in bed and asked for a boost. His nurses response, 'I don't have time.' People remember how you make them feel. Some shifts it may be a small impact such as a simple boost in bed, reassuring them I'm here and care. I chose nursing because it allows caring to be a huge part of your career."

Patty DeStefano, RN
Memorial Hospital


"The birth of my first child was very long. I was overdue and in spite of attending childbirth prep classes, I didn’t see myself doing as well as I would have liked through labor.  

"The delivery of my second child was everything I had hoped for.  I went to a refresher class, was again overdue , but this time I stayed out of bed as long as I could. I was so proud of myself and the capabilities of a woman’s body and the miracle of birth. It completely fascinated me.  

"Fast forward two years, I am 25 years old and had an epiphany -- I was going to become a Labor and Delivery nurse and work at Memorial Hospital. I declared this to my family and registered myself at IUSB for the Bachelor’s Degree program. I had a two and three year old. I took nine credit hours the first semester. I did very well and then worked my tail off for the next four years.  

"I landed a position on the Childbirth Unit, where I simultaneously worked alternating weekends on 12 South my last year and a half of school. Just before graduation I was able to get a new grad position on CBU, working nights and LOVING OB nursing ever since.  

"I’m not denying the first two years as a new nurse were incredibly frightening. One never knew what was going to happen throughout the night. But 27 years later, I still LOVE my job and the work we are doing is more than birthing babies.  

"I tell every new nurse that comes to work in OB, birth is one of the most spiritual events to witness. A family bringing new life into the world is something not everyone is fortunate enough to be a part of. It is our privilege to share these first few days with a new family and I cannot think of doing anything else.

"I know we are impacting our community in so many positive ways. Who would have thought my naïve declaration in 1988 would come true. I am so proud to be an OB nurse at Memorial Hospital South Bend."

Sarah Paturalski, RN
Memorial Hospital


"I did not grow up always wanting to be a nurse. I always wanted to be in 'business' and I set off on this route after graduating high school. However, life took a change for me when I was nearly finished with my sophomore year in college. While visiting a friend in the hospital I had a hallway encounter with a burn victim that moved into what felt like a spiritual calling to care for others. After thought, prayer, and conversations with my parents the decision was made. I was going to be a nurse. I had found my purpose: serving others. It became evident in my journey through nursing school and my first few years as nurse that I needed to melt together my love for business and purpose to care for others. I wanted to become a good nurse so that I could move in to leadership and take good care of nurses.  I feel honored (and lucky) to be able to represent the amazing associate at Beacon and work hard to live in to my purpose each and every day."

Brianne Poorman, RN
Elkhart General

"I became a nurse because I want to make a difference – and at times, its not always helping out our patients, but instead you get the chance to be there for their loved ones when they need it most. I still remember a time during a clinical in nursing school, one of my first patients’ husbands telling me that he knew what the 'SN' on my name badge meant. I looked up into his eyes, as I held the hand of his wife and said, “oh, that just means I am a Student Nurse.” He quickly corrected me by stating with a smile, 'No, it means Special Nurse.' That moment along with many more just like it is my reason."

Nichole Warp
Elkhart General Hospital

"I don’t know that I ever 'decided' to become a nurse. I believe that being a nurse is who I am meant to be. I knew that when I graduated high school I had to go to college and do something with my life. My mom is a nurse and my dad a firefighter and paramedic, and I watched how they helped others and made a difference in so many people’s lives. I realized that being in the medical profession could be a very rewarding and satisfying career. As I made my way through LPN school and then on to achieve my RN my heart grew to love how nurses impacted a patient’s life and supported their family through some of the most difficult times. I am very fortunate to work beside amazing CNAs, nurses, physicians and NPs whom have supported, mentored and guided me throughout my nursing career. Now, I can’t imagine being anything or anyone other than the nurse I am."

Robin Schalliol
Beacon Medical Group

"I graduated Nursing School in 1979 so I had to really think about this question. My life has changed so much since then and the Nursing Profession has changed dramatically – beyond what I could ever imagine. I mean, we were still wearing white uniforms and nursing caps.

"However, prior to Nursing School, I attended college to become a Medical Assistant/Medical Secretary. I remember admiring the nursing students thinking to myself, 'I could never do that'. After graduating from college, I started working in a doctors’ office for two doctors who specialized in Internal Medicine. They did their own x-rays (we had a dark room where I developed them) and they performed sigmoidoscopys. This is the early to mid 1970’s, remember.

"Sometimes one of our regular patients would come into the office without an appointment for minor emergency’s and occasionally come in for chest pain. Back then, people did not go to the ER as they do now; there wasn’t as much education about heart disease; there was no such thing as 'clot busters', PTCA’s, stents and CABG’s were in their infancy.

"I remember a specific patient though who walked into our office very pale, gray actually, short of breath, diaphoretic holding his chest. There was nothing I could do, so the doctor himself gave the patient Morphine IM (we kept a small amount of morphine in the office); we tried to do an EKG but the patient was so uncomfortable that he couldn’t lie still. Back then, mostly the major cities of the country had paramedics but I lived in Long Island, New York and we did not. There was no '911' either so we called the police who took the patient to the ER. 

"I felt so helpless; I wanted to be able to do more for this man and all patients; to have the knowledge and education needed to be of more help – so it was then I decided to go to Nursing School."

Mandy Hawkins, RN
Elkhart General


"My story is not about what made me want to be a nurse, because I really cannot remember a time I did not want to be in the medical field. My story is about why I continue to stay in this field. Every nurse reaches a point where they question why they became a nurse. We work crazy hours, take care of the sick and dying, and sacrifice our personal time to help out co-workers, patients, and the hospital. My time came in 2012. At that time I had been a nurse for two years and working night shift on the oncology unit for a year. I was tired and exhausted; I had only been on the oncology unit for a year and had witnessed so many deaths. What was the point of me even being there? I was not saving anyone. All our frequent readmits had started passing away. I was getting burn-out and mourning my patients. There was this one patient who I struggled to make comfortable. They had stage four lung cancer with severe pulmonary edema. They ended up with bilateral chest tubes due to malignant pleural effusions, and struggled with severe back pain from the insertion sites and muscles from struggling to obtain adequate air intake. We tried everything: Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, Morphine, Dilaudid. We tried obscene amounts of medications, and this patient would continue to be rocking back in forth in pain.

"The second night I had them, I decided to sit down on the side of the bed with them and rub their back as we talked. After all that medication and heating pads, everything we tried, what gave this patient the most relief was having their back rubbed. Every couple of hours that night, I would go in there and rub their back for a half hour and we would talk back and forth. The patient fell in love with my tattoo on me arm “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, but about learning to dance in the rain.” We would talk about all the things we needed to let go of. The patient was here for awhile, and their condition continued to deteriorate. The last shift I had with this patient, we did our bedside report. At this point the patient was comfort care and nobody knew why they were still holding on. I went up to my patient and I said my good-byes. The day nurse and I stepped out of the room and sat down to discuss a couple of things and less than five minutes later the family came out to say they had passed. I truly felt they held on, so I could say good-bye, as I had been off for a few days. I received an e-mail the next day from the funeral director of the funeral home they had chosen. They wanted the exact reading of my tattoo as the family wanted to use it on the service hand-out. A month later, I received a copy of that service hand-out, which I still have today, along with a willow tree statue from the patient’s spouse. That was when I knew I was in the right field. I sat on the bench in the locker room and cried. Being a nurse isn’t a career, profession, or job to me. It is a calling. I am very fortunate to find my calling in life."

Connie Ferrier, RN
Beacon Medical Group


"According to my mother, when I was 3 years old, I told her I was going to be a nurse when I grew up. The pastor’s daughter at our church was a nurse and I loved her white uniform and her white nurse cap. When I was a few years older, she bought me white uniform and a nurse cap so I could play dress-up. I nursed my dolls, my pets, and everyone who let me be their nurse and made them “well” with my doctor kit.

"When I was 10 years old, I started spending weekends with my aunt who had polio and was non-weight-bearing. I assisted with her activities of daily living and kept her company. When I was 15, my mom would drive me to work starting as a nursing assistant in nursing homes. As a nurse manager on PCU at EGH, we had many patients who became like family to us because they were “frequent fliers” as we would teach them and their families how to manage their chronic illnesses. I love nursing because it is serving others and assisting others on the healthcare team to provide the best care possible. No matter what setting, hospital or office, I enjoy seeing the patients smile and knowing I was a part of their care. In my current role, I enjoy working alongside and mentoring our office clinical staff.

"It has been 35 years since I graduated with a BSN and  I remain happy that I chose nursing as my career. It is a versatile profession and every day is different and brings something new."

Jayne Kohler
Beacon Medical Group


“Do small things with great love.”  Mother Theresa

"My passion for nursing stems from being influenced by the historical leader Mother Theresa.  Although she was not a nurse by occupation, she spent her life caring for and serving those who suffered from loss and devastation. The small things she did made such a large impact on so many lives. I chose to be a nurse because I to have the passion and drive to be a large part of the healing process for those in need. For the past 20 years, this profession has allowed me to live life,  and to see the moments in between the moments. Despite the challenge , nursing it is a calling and a love unending."

Brandie Clarke, RN
Beacon Medical Group

 

"I became a Nurse to make a difference in people’s life. I have always been a caring person and knew after being an Emergency Room Tech that I wanted to further my career as a Nurse. My husband of 10 years really inspired me to keep going as he could see how much I enjoyed helping others. I have been very blessed and thankful for the times spent making a difference in patient’s life. I transitioned from an Emergency Department tech to an Emergency Department Registered Nurse. I have also been a Cath Lab Nurse where I was able to be part of the team of saving a life of many patient’s having a heart attack. I have now found my true passion as a Palliative Care Nurse and love making an Impact on their quality of life."

Judi Ross, RN
Memorial Hospital


"Looking back, I think my inspiration to become a nurse stems from volunteering at a local animal shelter. When I asked to begin working in the infirmary as well as do cleaning, I saw that I could help the animals in even more important ways. A majority of them were scared and ill, but I found I had patience and a knack for drawing blood from kittens, using tiny needles. 

"Faced with pressure to return to college once again for advancement in my 13-year court career, I began thinking, 'What could I do to make a real difference in life?'  I acquired some 'people skills' in various capacities in the courts, so I enrolled in nursing school. By gradation time, I had managed to finish with honors, a feat I'd never accomplished before.  

"All that aside, it wasn't an easy transition into a new field, but I am not one to give up easily on a goal. And now, after a little over seven years in the ER, I find it a pleasure to take care of my patients. My job challenges me just enough to keep life interesting, and I have learned many new things along the way."

Michele DeStefano, RNC-OB
Elkhart General Hospital


"My love affair with the nursing profession began almost by accident. I was nearly finished with a bachelor's degree in Psychology at IU Bloomington, and was concerned that my fellow psych majors weren't finding entry level positions in their field of study. A midcourse correction was in order.

"We were in the midst of a national nursing shortage (some things never change), and so I thought I would get a degree in nursing as a stepping stone. I honestly didn't think I'd even like nursing, and started my studies in nursing considering it more of a means to an end. To my surprise, I found my calling in nursing. I was struck by the excitement, the intimacy of the connections formed with patients and families, the collaboration between providers and peers, and the privilege of accompanying patients in a meaningful way during watershed moments in their lives. I've spent the last 34 years in perinatal nursing at the bedside, in leadership, and as a nursing professor in obstetrics. I would choose it all again in an instant."

Andrew Hoffman
Memorial Hospital


"My goal in college was to graduate and work in Arts Administration to support the arts in my community. After several years as Executive Director of two different organizations, I’d achieved the jobs I’d dreamed about my whole professional life. But I wasn’t personally fulfilled in a way that I considered to be sustainable and meaningful on a personal level and I knew I needed a change.

"I took some time to discern my future by reflecting on my ideal work environment and what might bring me personal fulfillment at the end of each day. My husband was in medical school at the time, so the healthcare industry naturally appeared on my radar. One day, it finally dawned on me that my mother has been a nurse her entire life and always spoke at length about how much she loved nursing. I recognized how much her nursing career meant to her, and how fulfilled it made her both professionally and personally to be a nurse. I knew from that moment on that the answers I’d been seeking were right in front of my face all along.

"I put myself through my pre-requisites by working at The Container Store unloading trucks and designing custom closets. It was a long way from my days as an Executive Director, but I was working hard and loving every second of it. I earned my nursing degree at Georgetown through an accelerated second-degree bachelors program. It was one of the hardest experiences of my life, but I knew I had made the right decision to become a nurse and used that inspiration to power me through the toughest moments.

"My first job as a nurse was on the night shift in the ER at Memorial. Helping people navigate through some of the darkest, most unexpected moment in their life was truly a gift and provided me with incredible highs and lows that I will carry with me throughout my career. I will always be grateful to my ER family and the strong relationships that formed there. I’m also thankful to Memorial and the opportunities for growth and learning I have been afforded. Today, in my role as Summit Center Manager, I still keep patients at the heart of my decisions and use their experiences to guide me when I’m struggling for the right answer to a difficult problem.

"Most importantly, when I go home at the end of my day I feel fulfilled with my decision to be a nurse. Even better, my mother is incredibly proud that I’ve chosen to follow in her footsteps. She enjoys hearing how much things have changed about her beloved profession since she first got pinned many years ago. I love my career as a nurse and I am thankful every day to have the opportunity to interact with people in a meaningful way."

 

Kerensa "Kerrie" MacLeod
Beacon Medical Group

"When I was 30, my father was injured in a car accident. He was in the ICU for a month before he succumbed to his injuries. I would visit him every day even if only for 20 mins on my lunch break. At the time, I worked in banking and had no clue about healthcare. The nurses were so patient with me and my one million questions, always taking the time to explain the machines and what all the numbers meant.  I was moved by the amazing care that my father received from the nurses. I was so grateful for the way they treated me and comforted me on the bad days.

"I remember there was a point that the hospital called because my father had stopped breathing . By the time I got to the hospital he was stable again and I can still remember the nurse sitting with me and my husband in the waiting room, they were both holding my hands, and she took the time to explain what seemed like for the first time, the severity of my father’s injuries. I knew at that time that a decision had to be made that reflected what I knew were his wishes. That nurse helped me to make one of the hardest decisions of my life and made me feel like I made the right decision. A year and half later after a lot of healing and soul searching, I knew I wanted to help other people the way that nurse helped me. So, as a 32 year old mother of 4, I quit my job as an assistant branch manager at a local bank and went back to school full time. Today, I am working in the E. Blair Warner Family Practice Residency Clinic and I love my job. I love helping people and as a bonus, I am learning new things from all the physicians in the clinic."

Teri Birk, RN
Elkhart General Hospital


"My journey to nursing began in high school, during a casual conversation with a teacher and students regarding what we wanted to be when grown up. I answered, 'A nurse,' knowing I thought the human body was interesting and amazing. The teacher's response was, 'You don't want to do that, just be a doctor.' Knowing I didn't want to do that, I majored in education, then school psychology, then psychology. With one more year until graduation, my mom had emergency surgery. Seeing this hospitalization, seeing her nurses in action, and caring for her, I decided THAT was what I wanted to do."

Diana Hojara, RN
Memorial Hospital

"As I reflect back on my own nursing career, I am reminded of the attributes of a great nurse and how our actions and behaviors make a difference to our patients and their loved ones. Nursing exemplifies the profession rich in family values, sense of accomplishment, compassionate, empathy, selfless, and technically strong. It means putting the patient at the center of what we do and working to be what we have dedicated our lives to be.

"When others have asked me why did I become a nurse I tell them to this day I can’t pinpoint the moment, the experience, the real reason for going into nursing. When I was a little girl I never thought about becoming a nurse, I never had a calling. I think basically I became a nurse because I needed a job. But I can tell you each time I explore the question of what nursing means to me I discover new insights. Each day I get to go to work happy knowing that this day I can make a difference in someone’s life. There’s constant excitement and challenge in a nurse’s life. This is a profession that gives you pride. It is a career that you are proud to tell your family about. It makes your family proud too. Becoming a nurse gives you a sense of family with your coworkers on your floor and department. This isn’t a job where you don’t know your coworkers, it is the complete opposite. They are your second family."

Crystal Foster, RN
Memorial Hospital

"Deciding on a career in nursing started from a place of uncertainty in my life. About twenty-eight years ago, I was looking for a career path that offered financial stability for my family. It was suggested to me by my mother to consider a job in health care. I never thought about nursing growing up. In fact, I always talked about becoming an accountant. So with nursing now on the radar, my mother suggested first becoming a certified nursing assistance (CNA). She knew enrolling in a CNA program was an opportunity to enter the health care field with less time and minimal financial commitment; in case I decided it wasn’t for me. After two years as a CNA and six years as a LPN, I graduated with my BSN in 1998.

"Nursing not only offered the financial stability I was seeking, but much more than I would have ever considered. I love telling people I’m a nurse. Nursing allows me to play a critical role in the physical, spiritual, and emotional healing that occurs with the patients and families I encounter. I’ve witnessed people experience some of the scariest, saddest, or most traumatic moments in their lives. I’m proud that my nursing knowledge, critical thinking, and technical skills are contributing factors to achieve great patient-care outcomes in those situations. I’m honored to be a part of the nursing profession, and it’s a great feeling knowing my family is proud, too."

Mona Roberts, RNC
Memorial Hospital


"At age 5, I announced to my family that I was going to marry Glen Campbell and I wanted to be a nurse. Even though Glen Campbell didn't wait for me to grow up my desire to become a nurse never wavered. I was a candy striper in High School and at that time I said I wanted to work with children or deliver babies. I always loved babysitting thru my teen years and I think that played a part in my thoughts of working with kids. In nursing school when I witnessed my first birth I knew my calling was going to be that of a Labor and Delivery nurse. I graduated from Memorial Hospital School of Nursing and when I graduated in 1984 thankfully there was a night position available in LDR and I took it and have never looked back. I love my job and not once have I ever regretted my decision to become a nurse and am proud to work for Memorial. "

Barbara Weldy, RN
Elkhart General Hospital

"I have been at EGH for 40 years and soon will be retiring. I became a nurse when I was involved in a car accident as a passenger when I was 16 years old. The nurse in the hospital was so kind to me. My parents had not arrived yet from our small town and I was very frightened. I only needed a few stitches and was discharged later that night. I told my parents on the way home 'I'm going to be a nurse so I can do that for others". I never varied from my decision and have loved my years in nursing."

Joy Whitfield
Beacon Health Ventures

"I started off as a nursing assistant at Memorial on 7 South. I loved helping people. And I was good at it. I went to Nursing School and got my LPN. But when I went into Home Care, I found my deep love of my patients was my reason to be a nurse. Teaching sick children to walk and eat, keeping them out of the hospital, impacting their lives. One after the other, I got them doing things that made their lives better."

Dione Ganser, RN
Memorial Hospital

"I have been a nurse for over 20 years and I really cannot imagine doing anything else. I have worked in obstetrics for 18 years of it and I can tell you that this isn't just a career, it is a passion. I love what I do.

"I do not have a specific "I MUST be a nurse moment" as it feels like it was always what I meant to do. I have many medical professionals in my family including several nurses. All of this family are people that I look up to and naturally wanted to emulate. It never felt like I was EXPECTED to go into the medical profession, I had choices as I was preparing for college. I had experiences with my grandparents being hospitalized when I was younger and I was able to experience hospitals from the patient and family side of things. One example was when my grandmother was in the hospital and got a cardiac pacemaker. She was in the Intensive Care Unit where children were not allowed to visit. I do not remember how old I was but I'll guess around 9 or 10 years old. I remember sitting in the lobby downstairs with my two siblings while my parents took turns visiting my grandma. At that age I didn't understand what was going on and I remember being anxious that she was going to die and I would not have been able to see her! Before we left for home, there was a NURSE that let us sneak in to see grandma. In my child mind, we were "sneaking" because I knew it was against the rules and we were supposed to be very quiet. We were able to see grandma was doing well (compared to my fears) and we were able to visit with her for a little bit. That little gesture of being allowed to visit was so significant to me that I remember it 30+ years later. It was not just the patient that this nurse was so kind to... it was also three little kids that were worried about their grandma!  I hope I have been able to show the same amount of compassion that this nurse showed us."

Courtney Hoover
Beacon Health Ventures


"I decided to become a nurse for many reasons. I grew up with extended family members who had chronic illnesses needing treatment and for someone to show them how to manage their illnesses. I also wanted to become a nurse because I felt led in the direction of health care from a young age. I used to look through my dad's paramedic books with him and was not phased at all by the pictures -- he knew then that I would be in the health care field somehow. I find it a joy to be with someone helping them learn about their illnesses, taking care of them when they are often at their worst, and love seeing the progress they can make once the big picture starts to come together."

Alice Blakesley
Memorial Hospital

"Nursing was not on my radar when I graduated from high school, I was unsure of what I wanted to do. I decided to go into nursing after a year in college with still no idea what I really wanted to do. My mother and sister were both nurses and it seemed that it was something I could do. During nursing school I worked in the emergency department and found it to my liking. After graduation, I was one of the first graduate nurses to start in the ED right out of school. I loved it. I eventually learned that I loved teaching and became a preceptor and from there I have held several different positions that involve teaching. I continue to use my skills in different roles in the hospital and enjoy being a nurse."

Brittany Wiswell, RN
Elkhart General Hospital

 

"I became a nurse because my whole life, my mother has had Crohn's disease. She was in and out of the hospital a lot, and she almost died several times. Almost every time she was in the hospital, the nurses would let me ask a lot of questions. The thing I most appreciated was no one ever told me 'Oh she'll be OK. She'll pull through.' However, somehow I always felt calmed by their knowledge and caring. I believe it was 7th grade when I made up my mind to become a nurse. I wanted to be able to comfort people as all those nurses comforted me and my family. Every time I speak with families about a patient's condition, I remember how I felt in their shoes. It helps me to remember that when someone seems to be rude, they are more likely very worried about their loved one and to never take it personally."

Brooklyn Mrozinski, RN
Beacon Medical Group

"As a little girl, I had big hopes to either become an elementary school teacher or a registered nurse. I remember traveling to Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis to visit my cousin, Koby, who was there for an ear surgery due to a birth defect. He was my very first inspiration. The children’s hospital was amazing. As a young girl, I noticed the compassionate care my cousin was receiving from the nurses, physicians, and hospital staff. That was probably the very first moment that I knew I wanted and NEEDED to pursue nursing.

"In high school as I was choosing my classes to take I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up and the answer was easy—a nurse. This is when I realized just how much I looked up to a family friend and wanted to follow in her footsteps. Some of you may know her as she worked on Oncology at Memorial Hospital for several years before becoming a Nurse Practitioner for Michiana Hematology Oncology. Brandee Flagg had a huge impact on my nursing career. She was a devoted, caring, and knowledgeable patient care advocate and easily became one of my biggest role models. Brandee helped guide me into applying for job postings with Memorial Hospital.

"In May 2001, at the young age of 18, I accepted a Patient Care Assistant position on the evening shift on the 8th floor Orthopedics & Neurosurgery unit. During this time I also took some prerequisite classes at IU-South Bend. The relationships that I made with patients on Orthopedics/Neurosurgery are some I will never forget. I’ll never forget the patient who came up from having a knee replacement surgery. Her family was waiting for us to check her in and assess her from surgery. Her vitals were stable. She was talking. Her pain was under control. I explained to them that I would be back within 30 minutes to check her vital signs again. When I went back to check on her, her husband stepped out to use the restroom. Her blood pressure was low, she wasn’t talking to me. She wouldn’t even open her eyes. Her respirations were extremely low. This patient was coding. I called for help and called a code blue as she eventually stopped breathing. I’ll never forget that moment in room 824. The best part of this story is that the patient survived and a few years later she came back to have the other knee replaced. She and her husband both remembered me. I was a Patient Care Assistant and this patient made an impact in my life.

"There’s another patient who comes to my mind while I was a PCA on Ortho/Neuro. This particular patient had a brain bleed, required 24 hour supervision for some time due to his safety. I knew his family outside of work, but built a much closer relationship with them as I sat with this patient several times throughout his stay at Memorial. The patient’s wife and son were with him daily to support him on his road to recovery. Years went by and each time I ran into he and his wife outside of work they would thank me for the care I provided to him. This patient will always have a special place in my heart. He was a walking miracle for many years but I firmly believe his support system kept him going. These are just two of many patient experiences that made my decision to pursue nursing a pretty easy one.

"Fast forward a few years…. Still a Patient Care Assistant at Memorial, I transferred to the Mother Baby Unit as babies and children had always been a passion of mine. I was attending Bethel College at this time finishing up some classes to get into the nursing program. It was on this journey that I met someone who totally believed in me. She quickly became a good friend and was the Director on Mother Baby. I can’t say enough good things about this person. She taught me that anything is possible. She taught me that although there may be bumps in our journey to success, nothing is impossible. This person is Sarah Paturalski. While a PCA on Mother Baby, I faced a setback in nursing school but I didn’t give up. The setback discouraged me but it didn’t define me. It was the support of my family, colleagues and leadership team that helped me get up and continue to pursue my dream. Finally, I graduated from nursing school in 2013 and landed a RN position on Mother Baby. It was early on in my nursing career that I realized one of my lifelong goals was to become part of the Beacon leadership team. I knew the experiences as a staff nurse were an important stepping stone to get to where I ultimately dreamt to be. I absolutely fell in love with the care I was able to provide to new parents and their bundles of joy. It was also on this path that I struggled with infertility myself and it got to be hard for me emotionally. With the support of Sarah and the Mother Baby leadership team, I transferred to a pediatric office setting within Beacon.

"I enjoyed my role as a pediatric triage nurse but after a couple of years I realized I wanted to do more within the health system. With some encouragement from a pediatrician I worked with, I decided to pursue my dream of nursing leadership. It didn’t happen right away but each day I would try to do great work and have a positive impact on those with whom I came in contact. Thank you, Dr. Olivia Tack, for giving me hope and motivation to pursue my goals.

"In June 2017, I accepted a Clinical Supervisor position at Beacon Medical Group Cleveland Road. I am blessed that Jennifer Bailey (BMG Cleveland Road Practice Manager) has given me the opportunity to make a difference in a leadership role. It is truly humbling to be given this opportunity. I can’t thank the providers and staff for their warm welcoming, being supportive and teaching me important parts of each of their roles within the office setting. Although I have stepped down from day to day patient care it is still fun to educate staff and patients, implement new processes, and support the clinical staff within the office setting. It is a rewarding role as I am not only growing within my nursing career but also have interest in learning the business side of health care. Being an advocate for staff, providers, and patients is my passion. I aspire to make a difference in the lives of our patients and staff. I strive to support our staff to provide exceptional patient care on a day to day basis. One of my goals is to help our staff extract the greatness they already have within themselves. I aspire to develop or improve processes to create efficiencies within Beacon. My hopes and dreams don’t stop here. Someday I hope to grow even further in my role within Beacon. I think the most rewarding gift in nursing is not only to provide quality care to our patients but also the willingness to learn how to do great things and to do great things with love and compassion. There are never two days that are exactly the same in nursing so keeping an open mind, open heart and the willingness to learn something new each day is what makes this career such a priceless one.

"The decision to choose nursing as a career was a fairly easy decision. I enjoy caring for others, being a patient advocate, and love the opportunities to make an impact in someone else’s life. There are far more experiences and patients who have impacted my life than I can count. I’ve held the hand of dying patients, cried with patients and family members who just received bad news, have welcomed several miracles into the lives of anxiously awaiting parents, educated new parents in caring for their new bundle of joy, provided hope to those who are facing challenges with starting a family, and celebrated patient achievements. I’ve sat with patients who just simply needed someone to listen. I’ve given guidance to parents whose children are ill and educated older adults on ways to improve their health simply by changing their diet and exercise regimen. I chose nursing because it is a career that is challenging and interesting. In nursing, there are various opportunities to make a difference in the life of others on a daily basis. I enjoy spreading joy and kindness wherever I go. I do not think of nursing as a job. It’s a calling and one that has brought much joy and compassion to my life.

"I owe a lot of my success to my husband, my daughter, my parents, my brothers and their families, my in-laws, my colleagues, extended family and friends. Without their support I would not be where I am today."

Dawn Leatherman
Beacon Health Ventures


"I find private duty Home Care very rewarding because of the long-term relationships I have with my patients. I enjoy getting to know them, watching them change and grow and do things that they didn't think were possible. I always find that there is so much I can learn from each of them."

Heather Berry, RN
Memorial Hospital

"I became a pediatric nurse because of the care my family received the many times my youngest son was a patient on the floor. Each time he was admitted, the staff went above and beyond to ensure he got the best care possible as well as making sure that the rest of family was taken care of as well. They brought us food and drinks so that we didn't have to leave the bedside when he was really critical. Child life played with our oldest son and helped us explain what was going on in terms he could understand so that he wouldn't be as scared. They brought the baby toys and things to play with when he felt up to it. The nurses were patient and honest with us when our baby wasn't doing well, and they celebrated with us when his condition began to improve.

"Some of the nurses I work with are the same nurses who were my source of security and hope in the darkest hours of my life. All of my family lives on the east coast so I didn't have them here for support, but the nurses and doctors who took care of us filled some of that void. There aren't any words or actions that can accurately portray my gratitude and admiration for the nurses and doctors who took care of us, so I felt like pursuing a job in pediatrics and becoming part of the team that did so much for us was the best option. I want to do for others what they did for me and my family. The nurses I work with are truly my heroes every single day and I've never felt more fulfilled."

Becky Monnin
Memorial Hospital

"I had always wanted to be a teacher my whole life until I left for college and spent three days at Ball State and quit. When I returned home, I had an appointment with my endocrinologist who said, 'Have you ever considered nursing.' I remember his nurse chimed in, 'You'd be great.' I contacted the Memorial Hospital School of Nursing and was accepted into their program. I was so excited, especially after meeting Miss Kardesen and Miss Peterson. I have had diabetes since age 12, but had never been hospitalized except initially, so I had spent very little time in a hospital. The first time I met my first patient during med/surg 1 clinical, I was hooked. I may not be a school teacher, but I have done a lot of teaching in my 35 years of nursing. Not only patients, but families, residents, and other nurses. So why I did I become a nurse? To teach. Now as one of the most seasoned nurses at Memorial, I am called 'Mother Monnin'. People come to me with questions and hopefully I can answer them. I am so fortunate that someone suggested nursing to me and that I answered that call."

Ashley Hartung, RN
Memorial Hospital

 

"When I was younger I always knew that I would either be a teacher or a nurse. I chose nursing after my diagnosis with Type 1 Diabetes when I was 13 years old and I got to experience the care and compassion that nurses show to even the youngest patients that they care for. This decision to become a nurse was solidified when I had my first child and got to experience yet again a different side of nursing and the care that each and every one of the nurses showed to my family and myself.  (My labor nurse for my first child was actually Jamie who was my preceptor when I started on the Childbirth Unit here at Memorial.)

"During nursing school I didn’t really have a feeling of what area I wanted to go in to or where I belonged, until my last semester of nursing school when I had my Obstetrical clinical rotation. I can vividly remember a patient that I cared for on Mother/Baby that was a teenager. As I was receiving report, I thought back to when I was a brand new mom at 20 years old, and it brought back those feelings of uncertainty, and just the hope that I could be the best mother for my children. The report was not the most positive and I vowed to be someone different for these patients than what I saw and heard. I spent the day educating this patient and did everything that I could to be supporting and uplifting during one of the most life changing times in this patient’s life. It was then that I knew that this was the patient population that I was supposed to care for. It was not just a job; it was what I wanted to devote my career to. My goal as a nurse is to inspire, uplift, and support these moms during a time in which they are most vulnerable and during a time in which they need support, and they might not even know the ways that they need support; they just need somebody to be there for them, and I will be there."

Alissa Soboleski, RN
Memorial Hospital

"My first job was at Holy Cross House, a retirement facility for priests and brothers. I started there when I was 16 years old. I was so nervous to be caring for people that I didn't know if I would make it through the first week -- and neither did the staff. Well, not only did I make it through the first week, I made it 10 years.

"The staff and residents at Holy Cross House inspired and encouraged me to pursue nursing as a career. Holy Cross House was an awesome and fun place to work. One nurse especially encouraged me from the beginning. Her name was Sue. She was the most kind and loving person I have met throughout my career. Not only through her words, but also through her actions did she ignite my desire to pursue nursing. It i hard to get down on paper just how much she means to me, but I know this and thank her every day for being my inspiration."

Amy Barhydt, RN
Elkhart General Hospital


"My mother worked for a podiatrist and in nursing homes before my sister and I were born. I grew up hearing her stories. Mom doesn't have much of a filter so it never mattered how gross the story was, we heard it. Nursing is my second career. I was an interior designer for eight years and loved it. But in 2007 my heart was being tugged in a different direction. Throughout my life there have been a few emergent situations were someone needed to act quickly. Much to my surprise that person was me, so when I felt that tug, being a nurse was the only other profession that I had considered thanks to my Mom's stories. I'm the oldest child and I think I've always been protective and willing to take a punch for my sister, in my case, hit a mailbox with my bike warning her of an oncoming car. I like people. All people. I'm willing to give a stranger the shirt off my back. Nursing seemed like a good fit. I started as a PCA on 8 south in 2008, then 9 south and graduated in 2013 with my RN. I've been in critical care at EGH since then and I'm in love."

Toni Riehm, RN
Beacon Medical Group


"Most every nurse will say that wanting to help others in need is the driving force of becoming a registered nurse. However, I believe that though very important, not every caring compassionate individual is able to manage the criteria to become a qualified nurse in the setting of truly complicated patients. One has to have good common sense, the ability to learn from textbooks, professors, and competent nurse leaders. Then put all this education into action and think on his or her feet. There are extremely competent nurses who excel at the technology of ICU care, and others who can balance an array of complex IV meds post cardiothoracic surgery. There are superior nurses whose specialty is education or juggling multiple call lights or phone calls from patients with questions. Those who can manage the special care of pediatric patients, being sensitive to precisely measured medications and their families who are beyond worry hold a special place in the hospital and in my heart. I became a nurse because I believed I could. As an adult student, I studied till it hurt, then put into practice the knowledge I gained. Patients are at the core of our work, but thinking about the whole picture and attending to the variety of needs is so deeply important."

Stephanie Dimitroff
Elkhart General Hospital

"My mom always wanted me to be a nurse. I had taken medical terminology prior to my mom dying in 1990. I moved closer to my dad after she died. I needed a job and the local hospital needed nurse's aids. I applied and got the job. I went through the training and found out they needed a telemetry tech. I applied and got the job. It just so happened to be on the floor where my mom died. She died of a heart attack. A nurse that trained me, encouraged e to go to nursing school. I applied and started in 1991. I graduated in 1994. I worked on the floor where my mom died until we moved to Elkhart for my husband's job. I started working at an oral surgeon's office after moving here. I worked there for six months, then got a job at Elkhart Clinic working with Dr. Gonzales and Dr. Nolan. I answered an ad in the Elkhart Truth. I worked with them for four to five years. Dr. Nolen helped me get the job here in CVR back in 2001. I always felt it was meant to be."

 

Wendy Nash, RN
Memorial Hospital

"I’ve known that I wanted to become a nurse since I was in 8th grade; however my mom recalls that I often played “nurse” with my dolls and kittens, and was a very nurturing, caring, and empathetic little girl. As far back as I can remember, I was drawn to the kids that were hurt or sick and preferred to be 'taking care of my baby cousins' at family gatherings rather than playing. I realized I could merge those two passions of mine when I chose my career path, as a freshman in high school. I wanted nothing more than to become a Pediatric Nurse and take care of sick or injured babies, children and teens. There have been many patients and families that I’ve hoped to have made a positive impact on as their nurse, but in reality it’s those patients and families that have made lasting impressions on me. I’ve had many patients whom I’ve comforted, rocked, started IV’s, and medicated, etc., but one patient stands out as happy to see me every time he’s here. Even though I have to poke him and things aren’t always pleasant, he trusts me to be his nurse. I wish that I could take all of the discomforts from him, but all I can do is take care of him with empathy and the best nursing care. My love for nursing has evolved over time to include many aspects of nursing from education to injury prevention, but the passion to be a Pediatric Nurse remains the foundation of who I am."

Lauren Rose, RNC
Memorial Hospital

"I knew in 8th grade that I wanted to be a nurse. I can’t really put my finger on a single decision that led me to choosing nursing. Somehow nursing chose me.

"I always knew that I want to be there for people when they needed care, and I knew that I wanted to be at the bedside. I originally thought Peds would be a good fit for me, then quickly fell in love with OB during nursing school. Chris Haas helped me secure a position as a Clinical Associate on the Childbirth Unit, when I reached out to her to see if there were any openings in Peds or OB.  There was an opening for a Clinical Associate in OB and since the day I started on the Childbirth Unit -- I knew that was a great fit for me. I have been on the Childbirth Unit for almost 15 years and still love what I do every day. It is amazing to be able to take care of women during labor, and delivery, as well as working with high risk patients in antepartum. I still learn something new every day and enjoy being able to be a part of a new life entering the world.

"I helped take care of my grandmother when she was diagnosed with cancer before she passed away.  I loved being able to be there for her and be involved in her care.  That made me want to choose nursing even more, after being able to help her."

Jodi Pairitz, RNC
Memorial Hospital


"My grandmother was a very caring person. It came naturally for her to want to care for the sick and family members. When I was a child, we were going to other houses in the community bringing food and taking people to doctor visits. It was very important to visit members in the community at wakes and make sure they had just the basic things like food and company after the funeral of their loved ones. She always felt like she missed out on her opportunity to get a formal education in the medical field. She told me to never not take advantage of the educational system and to always 'follow my calling'. Like my grandmother, it was natural just to want to care for others in the family and around the community. Once I felt that calling, I knew I had to be a nurse. Like my grandmother, there wasn't any other career that seemed right. Nursing is such a part of me. I don't think I could ever stop caring for others. I still feel my grandmother's presence whenever I am at work or at home. I still have dreams of her smiling, telling me that 'Everything is going to be fine.' I feel her loving presence and remember the importance just listening to others. Because of her, I never forget the little things like a hot cup of coffee for a family member, or just sitting in the room letting that patient know I am here and I care. For that, I am ever so grateful. There is not a day that goes by that I remember that I am the lucky one to be getting to know and care for each and every single person that I come in contact with. This includes not only patients, but also their family members and my coworkers. I feel honored to get to come here and celebrate new life and everyday life.

"My maternal grandmother was the reason I became a nurse. She was one of 14 children who lived in the south. Her mom died a week after the birth of her youngest sibling. She quit school and helped raise her siblings. She gave up her dream of being a physician. She became an all-around lay midwife and gave assistance where needed, living in a rural town without a great deal of assistance in the 20s. She then got married and raised her four children. She continued to care for her grandchildren and others around her until she was unable to continue. She wound up being a diabetic with congestive heart failure. I would stay with her and always help her. She gave me the idea of working toward my nursing degree. She died when I was 14. I still feel she is around me each and every day I work. I kind of feel that she can live through me caring for laboring women and newborns."

Janet Gill, RN
Memorial Hospital


"I decided to be a nurse when I was very young. Around the age of two, I played with my dolls all the time, but they were usually my 'patients'. As I got older, I became more passionate about being a nurse. I would make my siblings my patients. I especially liked putting slings on my brother, and if there ever was a wheelchair in sight, I insisted on pushing my 'patients'. I never lost interest in being a nurse. And when I turned 14, I became a candy striper at a large local hospital. That clinched it. I definitely was going to be a nurse. I took many of the required classes in high school to allow me to apply to various nursing schools. (I'm showing my age now!) I went to the nursing school associated with Northwestern. It was a rigorous three years of classes and clinical training. After graduation, I moved to the South Bend area and I applied for my first paying job -- an RN at Memorial Hospital. As I am now looking toward retiring at the end of this year, I know in my heart, I cannot completely let go of my nursing career. I hope to return to a PRN position at Memorial, the only place that I have ever worked. I can say that I have truly always loved being part of the nursing profession."

Larry Browne, RN
Memorial Hospital

"In 1971, I joined the United States Navy and enrolled in hospital corpsman school. I loved medicine from that time forward. Hence, being discharged from the Navy, I enrolled in the Memorial Hospital School of Nursing. Nursing has been very good to me and my family. What a great way to make a living."

Amy Tinlin, RN
Memorial Hospital

"I wanted to be a nurse for as long as I can remember. And that career dream came true almost 40 years ago. I have so many endearing patient stories that it’s hard to choose one! One of my favorites is a 10-year-old boy with a brain tumor that I just fell in love with while working in radiation oncology. He had a very complex social history especially since his mother was being treated for a very aggressive melanoma and they were going throughout their cancer journeys together. My young patient was always wearing his camouflage clothing and he talked nonstop about being a soldier when he grew up. It was clear to see that he would not beat his disease so as his cancer progressed I decided to make a small part of his dream come true. I talked with our local National Guard unit regarding my patient’s wish to become a soldier and about getting some type of military memorabilia to give to him. Those soldiers fell in love with the idea of helping make my patients dream come true and we planned a big surprise. One sunny day, after my patient’s treatment, he walked out the front of the hospital and there were several military vehicles parked there. He was so shocked and excited and then he was asked to tour the vehicles with the soldiers. This group of soldiers made him an honorary member of their military group and they all saluted him. They also invited him to come to the base, later that week to take a ride on a Black Hawk helicopter with a General. Needless to say there was not a dry eye in the crowd, when everyone could see how extraordinarily happy this ceremony made my patient. This is a memory that touches my heart every time I think of it. And this is just a small glimpse of why I love my work with cancer patients and never want to stop."

 

Lisa Culp, RN
Memorial Hospital


"Twenty-seven years ago I was very happy to be expecting twin boys. I delivered my boys full term, unfortunately one of my sons passed away one day before delivery. I was not a nurse at that time. There were many emotions that I had to deal with and I felt there must be a better way for nurses to care for a patient's emotional needs as well as their physical needs. After having gone through this experience, I decided to go to nursing school at the age of 39. I wanted to care for mother's celebrating their new babies, as well as someone who could help mothers who have to deal with the loss of an infant. I have had patient's who have experienced loss.  I have shared my story with them, listened to them and chose my words carefully and compassionately when I spoke. While you cannot take away or lessen the grieving process, at the very least you can be supportive of them and make them not feel so alone."

Angelia Poorman, RN
Elkhart General Hospital

"When I was in elementary school, I had an interest in becoming a nurse, but it wasn’t until I was 15 years old, that I knew becoming a nurse was exactly my calling. My grandmother had suffered a massive heart attack, and the family had to decide what the plan of care would be. Fortunately, my grandmother had communicated her wishes to her children. Therefore, we honored her wishes by taking her off life support, making her comfortable, and allowing her a natural death in the hospital. She was the first person I ever saw die. I will never forget the love and compassion the nurses gave my grandmother, and us as her grieving family. They not only made sure my grandmother was comfortable, but they made sure we were comfortable, too. When a loved one is dying there is great suffering had by those losing that loved one, but one little touch of compassion can make all the difference in the world to a grieving family member. It was in this very moment, during the most emotional time in my life, that I knew I wanted to be there for someone like those nurses had been for me and my family. I may have forgotten their names, and even what they looked like, but I will never forget how they made me feel. So, why did I become a nurse? To support people and their loved ones during their most vulnerable and most emotional times in their lives; to be their advocate; and show them compassion as though they are my own family members, so that maybe, they won’t feel so alone."

Heather Thomas, RN
Memorial Hospital

"When I was in middle school, I joined the CPR/First Aid team. We participated in competitions and even hosted one in Goshen. I was so passionate about it and knew that I wanted to be in the medical field one day.

"Flashing forward to my adulthood... My first pregnancy came with preterm labor at 27 weeks and I spent a fair amount of time in Memorial's Special Care Obstetrics. He was finally born in Goshen about five weeks early. Our second kiddo was a micropreemie born at 24 weeks via emergency c-section. We spent four and a half months in the Memorial NICU, a few weeks in Memorial PICU and the rest of his first year trying to wean him off oxygen at home. While in NICU, the nurses would tease me asking when I was going to come work with them because I was there so much caring for my little guy.

"But that passion for helping and caring for people was reignited. When my youngest was barely a year and a half years old, I found myself heading back to nursing school. Through my time in school, I realized helping kids of all ages was what I really wanted to do. My heart was really in Pediatric ICU nursing -- and that's exactly what I'm doing today.

"I've been the mother watching my child get emergently intubated in PICU. Standing there all alone because his dad was trying to make his way to the hospital from work, scared out of my mind that THIS might be the moment I lose my baby. Anytime I can help another family through that crisis, I know in my heart that I'm exactly where I'm meant to be."

Denise Kimsey
Elkhart General Hospital

"My mom was a huge soap opera fan. When I was little, I would watch the soaps with her and I loved seeing the nurses. I began to think about being a nurse. Shortly after making that my professional goal, my mom took me to the doctor for some forgotten reason. For the first time, I noticed Bertha, the nurse. She was kind, loving and compassionate. Not only would I be a nurse, but I would be a nurse like Bertha. Bertha embodied the term compassionate care.  Years later, while working in long term care, Bertha became my patient. She at that time was aphasic. I shared with her that not only did I become a nurse because of her, but she was my role model. Although she could not speak, a tear rolled down her cheek and I knew she understood and approved."

Tina Hostetler, MSN, RN-BC
Memorial Hospital

"When I was 17, I was involved in a terrible car crash. Fortunately no one was killed and I was the least injured. We were taken tot he 'new' trauma center in Kalamazoo, where we were triaged together in one large room. I could hear the others who were in the accident with me, and saw the machines and staff come and go. It actually helped me to not feel alone, and we could talk to each other -- my parents were driving from over an hour away. This memory of what I consider to be a compassionately-designed workspace, along with the new few weeks of wonderful care by the nurses (oh the pain when taken out of traction to do X-rays though) made me decide I wanted to be a nurse, so that I may give comfort to others also."

Becky Lange, RN
Elkhart General Hospital

"For me, there was no following the footsteps of an admired parent or family member but rather a gradual realization that nursing would be the perfect choice for me. It's a great honor and responsibility to be a nurse. Out of so many facets of nursing, I chose to specialize in cardiac rehab. Helping people recover from heart events has truly been a rewarding experience. It amazes me that my input, no matter how small, has an effect on the lives of those I am caring for. I thrive on being challenged and not just administering a temporary fix, but also teaching people afflicted with heart disease to care for themselves as they move forward. Being a nurse is more than a job, for me it's a calling into service. Let's face it -- not everyone is cut out to be a nurse. But in the midst of it all, babies are born, lives are saved and life-long bonds are even formed between the nurses and their patients. I believe if you want to get to know yourself better, all you need to do is a selfless act for another person. After that, you will find out things about yourself that you never knew before."

Brenda Oswalt, RN
Memorial Hospital

"When I was eight years old when my grandmother died after open heart surgery, I remember hearing my Mom and aunts saying she died on the table. I had no idea what that meant. At her funeral I told my grandma that I would grow-up and figure out why the doctor let her up on the table to die. All the way through High school I thought about what I had told my grandma, I was not  a great math or science student. So I decided to go to beauty school and I did great I was quite good at that. In the back of my mind I kept thinking about my grandma's funeral. Still not thinking I was smart enough I took a CNA coarse at Southwestern Michigan College. Didn't like working in a nursing home but I do a lot of hair while I worked there. So I did some other stuff -- drove a semi-truck, bartended, waitressed, worked in a toll booth, Shipping manager for fairytale brownies and various offices Nothing seemed to fulfill my need for more. Then my mother needed to have open heart surgery (I made sure the nurses knew not to let her die on the table). She was in recovery when I decided that I would go to nursing school. I was 35 years old. Well, I'm almost 50 now and I feel like I was meant to be a nurse. Like every other thing that I ever did was just playing make believe."

Nikki Zeltwanger
Elkhart General Hospital


"I became a nurse to help patients live higher quality, longer lives. It's rewarding to see a patient be able to enjoy life at a higher capacity than before their surgery."

Taylor Phillips, RN
Beacon Medical Group

"When I was 11 years old, I was diagnosed with Ganglioneuroblastoma, a rare form of pediatric cancer. The nurses that cared for me were remarkable, showing such compassion to me and my family. In an overwhelming and scary situation, they made me feel calm and less afraid. And from then on, I knew whole heartedly that I wanted to be a nurse. I wanted to be able to give my patients peace of mind, and be a calming force in a stressful or scary situation. Far too often, I feel that hospitals and doctor's offices are places people fear, and while no one wants to be there, nurses are able to make these places more welcoming, warm and comfortable. That is why I became a nurse: to be a positive light for my patients, giving them the most compassionate care I can."

Brittany Huffman
Memorial Hospital

"My youngest son was born with congenital chylothorax, which we were unaware of until he was six days old. We went from LaPorte Hospital, South Bend Memorial Hospital, to Riley Children's Hospital during the first four months of his life. Watching the RNs and how they cared for myself and my child is the reason I became a nurse and the reason I work here. South Bend Memorial Pediatric Transport Team looked like my saving angels when they came and picked us up from LaPorte Hospital. They made us feel more comfortable and at ease. This all happened at the beginning of 2008. By that fall, I entered college to become an RN. I wanted to be an RN who was there for her patients and families, just like they were there for me."

Shellie Dankert, NA
Elkhart General Hospital


"My grandma asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up and I said I have always loved to help people and she said well one thing for sure I could tell you if you work with sick people you will always have a job.  I thought I would give it a shot and try working at a nursing home. I was 17 years old and received my CNA license. I must say some days were always better then others but I learned as part of the medical field that is how it is some days. I worked at the nursing home for 5 years and then moved on to the hospital for 17 years of service. I also worked at hospice as a CNA/HHA. It was nice being able to work in different areas of the medical field. I tried factory work for about 4 years and I have decided that the medical field is where I need to be. I really enjoy taking care of people to exceed there expectations and be able to provide whatever is needed to make my patients happy. "

Cynthia Buckmaster, RN
Elkhart General Hospital

“When I was six years old I had my tonsils out and my stay was over 2 weeks because of infection. All the nurses were good and helpful, but there was a particular nurse who was very kind and would stay with me to calm my fears. I can still see what she looks like. I would scale the bed rails at night and walk down to the nurses station to have her swab out my throat. She would swab my throat, pick me up and take me back to the bed without waking my mom. This particular nurse remembered me 3 weeks after surgery when we were out in public shopping and called me by name. I was so impressed by this even at such a young age. This is the main reason I felt compelled to pursue a career in nursing. I can’t remember her name, but I remember her red hair done up in a French twist.”

Sherrie Aman, RN
Memorial Hospital

"I have wanted to be a nurse for as long as I can remember. As a child back in the 1970s, I recall wearing a nurse outfit for Halloween. My mother, Virginia Aman, also worked at EGH as a unit secretary on PCU for almost 30 years, retiring two years ago.

"My first job was as a CNA at a nursing home while I was in high school. I worked as a CNA for about seven years before going to nursing school. I loved my interactions with my residents, and many encouraged me to pursue a nursing degree. I worked in Elkhart, Minneapolis and Tulsa, Oklahoma in a trauma unit before making my way back home to Indiana due to my father's failing health. I started nursing school at IUSB as I wanted to be more educated on how to help and give proper care to those in failing health and crisis. I received my RN degree in 1992 and have not regretted it for one day. I am always learning and growing as a nurse. My four sons are proud of my work as they know my heart. I have worked med/surg, step down ICU, intensive rehab and am currently in psych at Epworth Center.

"I have had some past health scares myself and recovered. All my experiences in life have brought me to the place I am now. I love my job at Epworth and I am thankful for my career and couldn't be happier."

Mellisa Lathion, RN
Memorial Hospital

"I became a nurse so that I could serve others. I have always enjoyed helping others in need. I love being able to provide care for new moms and their babies, as well as their families. I became interested in nursing while I was working at the St. Joseph County WIC program as a Breastfeeding Peer Counselor. Over the course of the three years I worked for WIC, I met many families from our community during their prenatal and postpartum months. I connected with so many of them and was able to have empathy for them. One of my mentors, who is also a nurse, encouraged me to go to nursing school and I did! She saw something in me and believed in me! My own personal experiences have shaped me and helped me to become the nurse that I am today. One of my most important goals as a nurse is never to pass judgement upon the individuals who I have the privilege to care for. Being a nurse is challenging but also very rewarding for me. Having the opportunity to empower and educate women and their families is amazing. I am also able to support breastfeeding moms in a Baby-Friendly atmosphere."

Rita Wienholts
Memorial Hospital


"When I was in high school, a couple of friends and myself started talking about what we wanted to do with our lives. Nursing came up as an option. Our high school offered a candy striper program -- it was the 70s -- where we were assigned an afternoon a week in a nursing home. We would help where we could, feeding patients, reading to them, taking them for walks or just spending time with them. Whenever I left for the day, I felt like I had made an impact, even though it was small. The patients were so appreciative for any time I could give them. I realized at the time that nursing was much more than just spending time with people, but I was excited at the thought that I could have an impact on people's lives. When I graduated from high school, I applied for nursing school. And the rest is history. By the way, out of my group of candy striper friends, I was the only one who became a nurse."

Heidi Kirkpatrick, RN
Elkhart General Hospital


"Growing up I wanted to be either a teacher or a nurse. I opted to go with 'Team Dad' and follow in his footsteps into the medical field instead of my mother who was a teacher. My father and his father were both physicians and I wanted to keep medicine in the family, but that’s not the only reason I chose to be a nurse. I wanted a career where I could touch others lives and show compassion to those in need and what better way to do that than becoming a nurse. My daughter, Kristi, will be graduating with her BSN in May to keep medicine in the family for at least one more generation."

Lauren Paczkowski, RN
Memorial Hospital


"I became a nurse because of the nurse who took care of me. When I was 5 years old, I had my tonsils removed here at Memorial and my nurse was truly an angel in scrubs. She checked on me often, eased all of my fears, and even put surgical caps on my two baby dolls and let me taken them into surgery with me. My hospital experience is the first vivid memory I have of my life and I knew when I grew up that I wanted to be just like the nurse who took care of me."

Marlis Welsch, RN
Memorial Hospital


"When I was very young, my dad had to go to the hospital for heart issues. I remember my mom coming home and crying, because she was so worried. My uncle took me to the hospital to visit my dad. I saw nurses walking around in their white uniforms and nurses caps. I remember thinking I want to be a nurse and take care of people like the nurses who took care of my dad.

"When I was in high school I read any book I could find on being a nurse. When I would go for my doctors appointments, I would always talk to the office nurses about their profession.

"This was back in the day when St. Joseph Hospital and Memorial Hospital still had their nursing programs. My plan was to attend  St. Joseph School of Nursing. By the time I graduated, that school had already been closed, so I attended Memorial School of Nursing. It was the best thing I ever did. I met forever friends."

 

Claudette Jacobs, RN
Memorial Hospital


"As a young child, I use to bandage my doll Mary's hand that was bit off by the neighbors German Shepard. One year in grade school, I borrowed my Aunt's nursing cap to be a nurse for Halloween. I loved biology in high school. I believe that is what made me a nurse. The reward of making a difference in a person's life, no matter how big or small, has kept me a nurse."

 

Molly Pottschmidt
Memorial Hospital

"At this point in my life, I feel I had been called to be a nurse. To be a helpful stranger to patients that are in agony. To be their advocate, by listening to their needs, those that have been stated and not stated. I wanted to be able to alleviate their pain and suffering in a holistic manner, by looking at the total person, including their emotional, physical, psychosocial, and spiritual needs. I feel am patient focused, but also a strong team member that can works well with others.

"Nursing wasn’t always in my sight. For many years, I was a teacher. I brought compassion and love to my room. I was able to understand the individual needs of each child and help them grow in their own personal education.   Through my whole life, I have always been a people person, wanting to know how I could help or please others. With my education degree, I was given an opportunity to touch the lives of children and help them in their educational growth.

"It wasn’t until the fall of 2009 that I felt I was being called to be a nurse. My mom had a quadruple bypass and struggled through a very long rehabilitation process. I saw that same love and compassion that was in my classroom, being brought to my mom through the nurses.   I was touched by the way they were truly concerned about her individual needs. It was at this time that I was ready to bring my abilities to the sick patients through nursing. I am a very gregarious person that has always been curious or nosy about the needs of other. Through my compassion and attention to detail I am able to easily build strong comfortable relationships with people I have just met. I want to be a caregiver to the sick, who still need the same compassion, love and attention to detail that my students did. To be the patients advocate and bring healing and relief to each individual patient is one area I strive to achieve."

Merlin Becker-Hoover
Elkhart General Hospital

"When a half dozen cool dude college nursing students take care of your family members in the hospital, you notice. Especially when you are six years old. Then when a fifth-grade teacher asked us to list three things we might be when we grew up, mine included  'boy nurse'. It took a few career changes, but the most recent dude-to-geezer 25 years have included countless opportunities to give patient care to our community."

Alison Upham
Memorial Hospital

"My sister 'Melanie' always knew she was going to become a nurse. Being the second born, and doing literally everything two years after her,  I wanted nothing to do with it. However, a year after high school, I felt a calling to help people. I began a CNA course, and had worked as a CNA for a few years. The calling grew deeper, and I wanted to do more. So I began my nursing classes. I graduated, and still continue to grow in my nursing career. It's in my blood. I was born to help."

Nicole Banks
Memorial Hospital

"My brother Nathan was diagnosed with a genetic disease Adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD) at the age of 12. ALD is a brain disorder in which it destroys the myelin, which is a protective sheath that surrounds the brain and destroys the nerve cells that allow us to think and control our muscles. I remember watching him get poked and prodded many times along the way. As time went on and the disease progressed, it took over his whole body, leaving him paralyzed. He had a peg tube for his feedings and meds, condom catheter for urination and a suction machine to suck his secretions out. He was dependent on my family and I to take care of him. My parents taught me how to care for him, which included bathing, turning him every two hours to prevent decubs, tube feedings, suctioning him and giving him meds through his peg. Helping take care of my brother was the least I could do to give my parents a break. Knowing there was no cure for the disease and that someday he wouldn't be here, I took pride and did my best to take care of him. Not that I enjoyed what my family went through, but because of Nathan I am a nurse and love what I do."

Crystal Underwood, RN
Elkhart General Hospital

"I probably was destined to be in the medical field since my father was a physician and my mother was a medical technologist. Most influential to me was my mother, who, at the time of her college education, was in a male-dominated field and was not exactly encouraged. After her schooling, she worked at several different places and then was married and ended up in South Dakota where my father was in practice with my uncle. She  started the lab at our home hospital and did the hiring, scheduling, and would go in early in the morning to draw labs and run them before the surgeries in the morning. She was dedicated to her job and was valued by the physicians and patients.

"Because I showed some interest, my mother allowed me to come to the lab and help her wash the glass pipettes, beakers and other equipment. Soon, I was working as a candy striper at the hospital. Being in the hospital environment and being able to help patients was a thrill to me.  

"Another influence was my biology teacher in H.S. who made the course a favorite for me. In clinical experience in college, my favorite areas were surgery and pediatrics and eventually I ended up in Pediatrics at EGH. I really enjoy children and  am committed to helping them through the hospital experience."

Terra Morauski, RN
Elkhart General Hospital

"My grandmother was a nurse and I remember as a little girl wanting to follow in her footsteps. I have always felt a strong desire to help others and that I wanted to help make a difference in people lives. What I did not know was how much of an  impact that nursing would have on my own life. To be able to be a part of stranger’s life in such an intimate way is a gift that I feel honored to have. I have been a small part of so many experiences from first breaths to last breaths. Being a nurse has given me so much more than I could ever give back to others."

Kelley Hunter, RN
Memorial Hospital

"Nursing is not for everyone. My Mom was a nurse here at Memorial for 45 years. She loved her career and was an outstanding caregiver. But she was just Mom to us. I never knew what it took to be a nurse. The compassion, knowledge base, dedication and commitment to the organization and above all to patients and families. The necessity of excellent time management, balancing work life and home life and acquiring a specific skill set to save lives each and everyday. Who knew Mom was so awesome?

Our Grandmother, Mimi, lived with our family my entire life until she passed away. My mother was her primary caregiver as she aged and fell ill. Mom took this role in stride and helped Mimi however she could. When Mom was unavailable, I would pitch in to help Mimi with basic care needs. One day I was helping Mimi with a bath and then to get dressed. I will never for the moment she said to me, 'Kelley, you have such kind, caring hands, just like your mother. You are going to be a wonderful nurse someday.' It was at this moment in time, I knew without a doubt I would become a nurse.  

I've been a nurse here at Memorial now for 18 years. I love my career, I love my co workers and I love that I followed in the footsteps of such an awesome nurse, my Mom."

 

Karen Wicks, RN
Beacon Medical Group


"I believe my first thoughts of becoming a nurse began in fourth grade health class. While learning the systems of the human body, I recall being fascinated with the body organs and how they all fit and worked together. Reading Clara Barton's autobiography in junior high introduced me to the idea that nurses could make a difference in the healing of the human body in a scientific and caring way. Throughout high school, I was a babysitter for a nurse who worked in the ER and then in nursing education and management. She was an excellent example in professionalism and it was obvious she enjoyed and took pride in her job. When I began seriously considering nursing as a college major and career, I know I would not only enjoy the educational process, but would have the opportunity to have a challenging job that also would allow me to care for people and make a difference in their lives during difficult times."

"Having worked in the Newborn ICU for 12 years, I have gotten to become close with many of our families. We often take care of the same patient when we work, and with babies needing to often stay for weeks or months in the NICU, so we also end up spending many hours with their parents. As you can imagine, the NICU is such a stressful and overwhelming place for parents to be, so when they learn to trust a nurse to not only care for their sick infant but also to provide support and comfort, it creates a special bond.

"One family that became special to me three years ago had twin girls born 15 weeks early. I came on shift just after little Alexis passed away at about 13 hours of age. I spent the day with the couple as they said their good-byes, bathing her, dressing her, and being involved in pictures. In my subsequent shifts, I started caring for her sister, Aubree, who after 14 long months of fighting, lost her battle. I was there on some of the hardest days and it was heartbreaking to become that close with a child and her family and then to say goodbye. I came in from home when Aubree passed away, her parents allowing me and some of her other primary nurses to hold her and say our goodbyes. Many of Aubree's nurses attended her funeral. After 14 months, even extended family and friends were familiar to us, so rather than it seeming like hospital personnel and then family members, it felt like we were all family. We were in this grief together and we had become invested in these people. I have remained close with the girls' parents. I have visited their home, met them for coffee, and I was elated when they asked me to be present in the OR room when their rainbow baby, Liam, was born 7 months ago.

"Becoming involved in parents' NICU journeys has changed my nursing career. I have learned to anticipate questions and worries so that I can offer hope on the hardest days. I love NICU nursing and feel privileged to work in such a wonderful place with such an amazing team of staff."