Their chosen paths…It’s National Nurses Week May 6 -12

April 2019 Posted in Community, People

By Melissa Wagoner

National Nurses Week is a time devoted to recognizing nurses for the role they play in health care. Celebrated May 6 – 12, it encompasses the birthday of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing and an inspiration to many of today’s nurses.

“A lot of people go into nursing because of some of those founding nurses and carrying on the mission of caring for people whole-heartedly,” Charity Pape a Lead Home Health Nurse at Providence Benedictine Nursing Center said.

As a support person to the nearly 70 nurses on the Providence Benedictine Home Health Team, Pape’s number one job is as an advocate, making sure her crew receives the help and recognition they need to thrive in their chosen career.

“Any of those people can call me for help,” she explained. “I get a lot of satisfaction from helping staff as well as patients and families. When I get a problem call, and at the end everyone’s happy, I feel really good. I’m a firm believer that if you’re not taking care of yourself, you can’t take care of other people.”

For Pape, National Nurses Week is one more opportunity for her, and the community at large, to give thanks to nurses and let them know they are appreciated.

“Make a donation to the nursing center,” she suggested. “We’ll get letters if a patient donated. And Nurses Week is a great time to drop off fruit or chocolate or even just letters. It’s great when your supervisor reads a letter from a patient because they just go out in the world. It’s nice to hear from somebody.”

With that in mind, here are just a few of the multitude of nurses who work in our community sharing what inspired them to enter the field of nursing and why they continue to love what they do.

Brian Reif, Silverton: Medical Surgical Nursing at Salem Hospital for five years

“The best part of my job as an RN is fundamentally that I get to help others. It’s that simple, and perhaps cliché, but nursing truly is a ‘caring’ profession based on service to others. It works for me as an altruistic career path. I derive personal meaning from working to make things better for the world or others.” 

Melanie Hunter, Silverton: Labor and Delivery Nurse at Legacy Silverton Medical Center for 4 1/2 years

“I have two favorite parts about my job: The very moment that little human enters the world and takes its very first breath on its own is absolutely miraculous [and] handing a brand new dad their baby for the first time. Literally makes me tear up every time.”

Kristie Barnes, Scotts Mills: ER nurse at Santiam Hospital for two years

“Ever since I was little I have wanted to do something in the medical field. I took the health occupations class in high school which allowed me to job shadow those with different healthcare occupations. I found that I enjoyed being with the nurses most and that they provided the most direct care to the patients than any other providers. My family couldn’t help me, and I couldn’t get any more student loans. So I enlisted in the Army as a combat medic. After a tour in Afghanistan, I returned stateside and began to start a family. After five years I was discharged and I moved back home and started school using my GI Bill. My experiences in the military make the ER feel like it is where I am supposed to be.”

Robin Will, Silverton: Geriatrics Nurse at Providence Benedictine Nursing Center, Transitional Care Unit, for 15 years

“I follow in a long line of nurses: My mom was a nurse, as was my great aunt (who raised my mom). My great aunt Gladys (Renshaw) was one of the first surgical nurses at the Silverton Hospital. After graduating from nursing school, I found that I really enjoyed the environment of rehabilitation nursing and geriatrics. It’s extremely rewarding to help people get back their independence.”

Theresa Serini, Stayton: Obstetrics and Neonatal Stabilization at Legacy Silverton Medical Center Family Birth Center since 2013

“My mother was diagnosed with a mental health disorder when I was a baby, after I underwent a cranial surgery at just five months old. This was especially traumatic for my mother and led to a genetic predisposition of mental illness. My mom aspired to be a nurse, but couldn’t due to her condition. I was originally inspired to become a nurse by my personal experiences at home and chose to use it to give back to our community; the community I grew up in.

“In 2012, my husband and I decided to start a family after the completion of my nursing degree. Little did I know, my first pregnancy would change our world forever… My first little girl didn’t make it to see or live in this world with us… I carry her with me in my profession and I have chosen to use my experience to be there for those who may have the unfortunate incidence of losing a child.”

“Following the loss of our first child, we would go on to have our second born…She was born to us alive and gave us the fortunate experience of parenting a living child. She was born with the same birth defect as I was and underwent cranial surgery at six months old.

“It is for these reasons I connect with my job as a nurse and foresee it as a lifelong career. My vow to those I care for in the community of Silverton is: to provide quality care using love, empathy, selflessness and skillful training to provide for those around me.”

Sarah Kaser Weitzman, Silverton: Imaging RN at Salem Hospital for five years

“Imaging sort of fell in my lap – I was looking for a break from the chaos of the ER and found the perfect fit in Imaging.”

“In my department we often develop relationships with our patients, which is really nice. It’s fulfilling to be a part of a procedure that might provide instant relief, or provide some relief of anxiety or a calm presence during a stressful or worrisome biopsy.”

Leslie Kuhn, Silverton: Nurse Case Manager at Legacy Medical Group for nine months

“After many years of working on a medical-surgical unit in Portland, the importance of adequate health access, engagement, and health promotion in the outpatient setting became ever more apparent.

“I support patients in a variety of different ways, whether it’s helping with resources or helping with chronic disease management. To be able to help others this way and to hear our patients verbalize that they feel supported, is everything to me and extremely rewarding. It validates my reasons for choosing nursing as my life’s work 15 years ago.”

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