Currently an Employee Health Nurse at Summa, Tedriene Small, BSN, RN-BC, explains why she feels her long experience on a medical-surgical until provided a strong foundation for her. She encourages nurses to get involved, not only in their profession, but also in their communities.
I have been a nurse for over 20 years. That’s hard to believe! I worked in several different areas during my career. I started my nursing path as a Support Associate on a telemetry unit while I was finishing up in nursing school. After I graduated, I started working on a medical-surgical unit that focused on chronic respiratory conditions and ventilator dependency. I worked on that unit for 18 years before I felt like I was ready for a new challenge. An opportunity came available for a position in our Employee Health department, so I took a chance and applied. I have been enjoying this new chapter of my nursing career for the past two years.
When people ask me what it’s like to be a nurse or if they show interest in becoming a nurse, I am always encouraging but honest. Nursing is a very complex profession. I believe strongly that individuals that want to become nurses should do so because they have a desire to help others or their community. I also believe that nurses that have personally experienced being a patient or watching a loved one be a patient tend to be more compassionate nurses.
I am very proud of my years of experience in medical-surgical nursing. I think working in a med-surg nursing unit can be a great foundation for any specialty you’d like to move into. Even as I transitioned into my role in Employee Health, when assessing employees or corporate clients, I frequently had to draw on the knowledge and experience gained from med-surg. Nursing, while customer service driven, is so much more than that.
I would absolutely encourage any nurses to seek certification in their specialty areas and find other ways to increase their knowledge and experiences. I also believe that nurses should be involved outside the walls of their employer. Nurses are everywhere! More of us should get involved in our communities, to provide outreach and education. We can be volunteering at our churches, schools, community centers by offering to teach preventative strategies and approaches to health. Many individuals in our communities are suffering from a lack of resources. This is one small way we can give back.
During my career, so many amazing nurses have made an impact on me. I wanted to give a shout out to some of my favorites. The night shift of 7W (Jackie Bird, Karen Speckman, Katie Reinke and Ralph Glinsek). Ralph was the best preceptor! He was patient and encouraged me when I didn’t feel sure of myself. This group of experienced nurses “raised me right!” They were tough but kind and it’s because of their strong work ethic and mentoring that I became the nurse I am today.