YON 2020 Day 228: Rebecca Clark, MAJ, BSN, RN, ONC

A diverse path led Rebecca Clark, MAJ, BSN, RN, ONC, to her current position as clinical manager in the Seidman Outpatient Center at Southwest General Hospital. She shares not only her journey, but also advice from her many experiences.

When I was 19 years old, I started in The James Cancer Hospital as a secretary on a hematology/oncology inpatient unit. I wanted to be more hands on, so I trained as a PCA. Joining the Ohio Army National Guard shortly thereafter, I became a medic and deployed to Baghdad. It took several attempts to get into nursing school, but I finally did. I was a Guardsman and working full time as a staffing coordinator, vet tech, and a float PCA throughout the nursing program. I graduated from The Ohio State University with honors in 2008, and was commissioned into the Army Nurse Corp.

I returned to The James as a new graduate nurse to the floor where I got my start. I completed their nursing internship, and was serving as charge nurse within my first year. Later I helped transition that unit to a Progressive Care Acute Leukemia Unit with an amazing team of nurses and staff. I left to broaden my horizons and floated throughout the cancer hospital until offered the opportunity to become a STAT nurse. That was one of the best jobs that I ever had. It included mentoring, a diverse patient population, strokes, MIs and ERT/code response. I learned so much and felt like I had so much to give--it was so rewarding!

Our family moved and I left oncology for the ER, then critical care. Now I’ve settled back into oncology as a Nurse Clinical manager in Seidman Outpatient Center at Southwest General Hospital. I am half way through my Master’s in leadership as I write this.

Sometimes I am dumbfound. How did I even GET here? A late bloomer, I was 28 when I graduated with my BSN. Took the “long way around”. Yet from this diverse background came perspectives in healthcare, leadership, and operations that have proven invaluable. Looking back, I wouldn’t do it any other way. These experiences led to my getting to lead the COVID Unit at our hospital and contribute to the planning and execution of our pandemic response- a dream of mine, always having had a strong interest in Disaster Preparedness and Crisis Management.

So what advice would I give a young doe eyed nurse?

Resource. Learn how to do it and do it well. Build relationships all around you in all the disciplines and areas. You do not need to have all the answers, but being resourceful will ensure that you find them.

Assume Positive Intent. This will make you a happier person and that will rub off on those around you. No one means to make mistakes--take the high road, mentor them, lead by example. They will follow.

Humility. Scared? You should be. A little fear is healthy. This will keep you honest and detail oriented. Being a nurse is a large responsibility that should be taken seriously.

Humor. After you take on the weight of everyone else’s pain and problems…you have to laugh about it! Even if it is at the dinner table and no one else is laughing. You do you!

Resiliency. Made a mistake? We all do. Figure out what happened, learn from it and be better. Find yourself out of your comfort zone? Embrace it. Diamonds are made under pressure. Chin up, chest out and drive on- YOU’VE GOT THIS!

Change. Not only do I encourage you to continue to challenge your own practice to improve it, but challenge yourself. Never stay stuck because you fear change. Diversify yourself and your experiences. Being well rounded will prepare you for ANYTHING!

I cannot believe the path that brought me here today, the patients I have met, and friends I have made along the way, but I am so excited to see where it goes from here!

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