YON 2020 Day 324: Jennifer Willis, RN, BSN

The Nurse Manager of Perioperative Services, CSP, Endoscopy of the Seidman Infusion Center, at University Hospitals, Samaritan, Jennifer Willis, RN, BSN, explains why coming home turned out to be a the best outcome for her nursing career.

Twenty years ago, I returned to my small hometown and started working as a nurse in the local hospital. I had always been absolutely sure I never wanted to return to my hometown or work in a small rural hospital. During my first 10 years of nursing, I had always been part of something big--the United States Air Force, trauma centers, large universities all included.

To say I had a chip on my shoulder would be an understatement. I was frustrated with what I saw at the time as backwards thinking and small town hospital politics. I couldn’t wait to be anywhere else, but that was not an option at the time. My chip remained and I was not always the most pleasant or patient co-worker.

Over time, I started to see things a little differently. I personally knew a huge percentage of my patients. They were my childhood friends or their parents or children, my teachers, and my own relatives. I personally held the hand of someone I had known all my life as I told him his father had not survived his cardiac arrest. Patients I knew told me they felt immediately better just seeing a familiar face.

I also started to watch my co-workers. They treated each and every patient like family, not just as another task or diagnosis. I watched new equipment come and renovations be made because of a very generous hospital foundation funded by donations from my community. Each employee cared for that equipment and those renovations as if they were their own property.

It has now been 20 years that I have now been at this little rural hospital. I still take care of those I know. When we say “like our own,” our patients ARE our own. They are from our community and they support our community and our hospital. My chip dissolved years ago. We may not have the most critical patients and we may not do cutting edge medicine, but what we do we do well. We take care of our own and anyone that comes here is our own. I cannot imagine being anywhere else or doing anything else.

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