I graduated nursing school in 1993. It was not my lifelong dream, it was a very practical decision my husband and I made together. At the time, his job could have moved him anywhere and together we decided it was time for me to go to college and I should choose a career where I could find a job most anywhere.
In the last 19 years, it has been my honor to care for many many people and their families. My first job out of school was at a large university medical center where I first worked on a general medical-surgical floor (which included bariatric surgery patients). I had the opportunity to care for some of the first HIV+ patients at our center. The overt acts of hostility and resentment they encountered from so many in their life made any kindness and comfort we could provide paramount to their recovery.
I then worked for several years in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit. Whether it was the adrenaline rush from never knowing what type of patient was coming through the doors or the pride from having obtained my Critical Care Nurse certification, I loved working in the SICU. I cared for the sickest of the sick; those who had undergone lung transplants, liver transplants, and trauma patients who could easily have been you or I on our way home from work.
I then became a case manager. One of “those people.” Now, now, don’t say it like that…case managers are not the enemy. In fact, they are the patients best friend. They help you navigate insurance the insurance waters, find specialists and follow you across the continuum of care to make sure you receive the care you need, when and how you need it in the most affordable manner. In 2001, I obtained the Certified Case Manager designation (that was the hardest test I’ve ever taken in my life! Yes, it was even more difficult than the critical care nurse exam.) I worked at an insurance company for a while, then went back to the hospital setting after having my gastric bypass.
In 2004, a friend and office mate handed me an ad for a hospital developing a new bariatric surgery program. They were looking for a coordinator. I had been dying to get involved in bariatrics and my current job had been completely realigned resulting in my dreading work each day, so I decided to call to learn more. Talk about fate! I faxed my resume and application on Friday afternoon, they called me Monday afternoon, I interviewed the following Friday afternoon and was hired during the interview. Finally I was a bariatric coordinator. I am now fortunate to work at the same program where I had my bariatric surgery. I sat for the first Certified Bariatric Nurse exam (and passed!)
I have been a nurse for 19 years. I may not have entered this career as a “calling” but nursing has surely taken over my soul. I have worked with the best nurses and surgeons in the world (and some of the most cantankerous.) I have wiped noses, tears and hineys. I have held the hand of the dying. I have laughed with the healed.
I am a Nurse, what’s your super power? And most importantly, how will you use it?
BariBelle, RN, BSN, CBN