Currently serving at a Nurse Recruiter at the VA Northeast Ohio Healthcare System, Allison Dirk, MSN, RN, AGCNS-BC, share the progression of her nursing journey and offers advice to those considering the profession.
As a child, I was exposed to the variety of medical professions. My father was frequently in and out of the hospital. He is a bilateral amputee related to Buerger’s disease. One time, my dad had a home care nurse who taught me how to give him antibiotics and change his dressings. I was just fascinated. It was then I knew I wanted to be a nurse. I also loved babies and wanted to be a labor and delivery nurse. I went to Ursuline for my BSN and loved it. I loved the small class sizes and I met the most amazing friends. All through college, I worked as a STNA in a nursing home and fell in love with the geriatric population. I did my senior practicum at University Hospitals and received a job offer for the same floor, Tower 7, an oncology/med-surg/ telemetry floor.
Although I really wanted to be a labor and delivery nurse, one of my nursing instructors stressed the importance of gaining med-surg experience. I never became a labor and delivery nurse, but I developed my skills and created lifelong friendships. That is the one thing funny about nursing--it takes you on an adventure you would never expect. Following my love for the geriatric population, I accepted a med-surg position at the VA. It has been such a great experience at the VA. I have learned so much for our Veterans. Our Vets love sharing their stories and experiences. They are all so grateful for the care they receive, and I am so grateful for their service. Later, I transferred to the surgical Intensive Care unit.
Five years later, I became one of the nurse recruiters. I later went back to Ursuline to get my MSN, which has positively influenced my position as a nurse recruiter. As a nurse recruiter, I have a unique role in recruiting, retaining, and recognizing our extremely talented and hard-working nurses and nursing staff. I am able to get out into the community and meet potential nurses for future opportunities at the VA. I get to brag about how wonderful the VA is. I share all the wonderful ways the VA has impacted our Veterans and nursing staff. When at a job fair, I interact with potential employees and nursing students and help educate them on the wonderful services the VA provides to our Veterans. It is an opportunity to talk about our wonderful nursing staff and also about the VA’s amazing benefits.
Every nurse is unique and has special skill set. I help place them in positions where they can positively impact our Veterans. I help coach them--from resume writing to interview tips, to help them achieve their dream job. Once they find their dream job, it is also my duty to help with nursing retention and satisfaction to prevent turnover and vacancies that can affect patient care. My role allows me the opportunity to get involved at a facility level to make positive changes for nursing staff, which ultimately affects patient care. I work closely with nursing leadership, nurse managers, human resources and nursing staff. My role is ever evolving. I ensure appropriate staffing for safe and efficient patient care, as well as a positive work environment for nursing staff.
One of the greatest parts of being a recruiter is the opportunity to recognize and thank my fellow nurses for all their hard work by assisting in planning nurse’s week and our Daisy Award program. My advice to anyone wanting to be a nurse: Do it! It will be the best decision you ever made! Find a nursing school with a great reputation and high NCLEX pass rate.