What it’s Really Like to be a Nurse

Nurses are the heart and soul of a hospital and at the center of care. Jeanette Gort, Telemetry Nurse at Elmhurst Hospital, and Jorge Hurtado, Clinical Resource Team Nurse with Edward Hospital, share why they picked this profession and what it’s really like to work as a nurse.

Why did you choose nursing for your career?
Jeanette: When I was younger, I helped take care of my grandma. It sparked an interest in being there for people in need.
Jorge: After I graduated high school, there was a downturn in the economy. I wanted a stable career and I found that in healthcare. My sister was in school to be a nurse so I decided to follow in her footsteps.

What does nursing mean to you?
Jeanette: For me, it’s being a natural-born caregiver. When patients come in, they’re scared and in pain and it’s rewarding to develop a relationship and be able to help them and their families.
Jorge: Nurses help guide patients and families through the healthcare experience. We coordinate care and provide emotional and moral support.

What are the biggest challenges nurses face?
Jeanette: People sometimes think that nurses only care for one patient. But we’re often caring for multiple patients – all at different stages in their journey. For example, one patient might be happy because he is getting ready to check out and go home. Another might be upset after getting an unexpected diagnosis. Nurses need to meet each of these patients where they’re at.
Jorge: Healthcare is constantly evolving and there is a lot of pressure and responsibility placed on nurses. We are looked at as the ones to coordinate care between patients and providers and satisfy all of these groups when they have conflicting needs.

What is the most rewarding aspect of nursing?
Jeanette: I love connecting with patients. I make a point of finding out something about them outside of why they are at the hospital. It’s so rewarding to get to know patients and help them calm down or allay their fears. We can help them make the changes they need to make to have a better outcome in the future.
Jorge: Nurses are in a unique place to guide patients and families through some of their worst times and be an advocate for them. It’s rewarding to see patients make progress. You can see how they evolve and get better. Our work really touches lives.

What is a typical day like for a nurse?
Jeanette: The basics are the same each day: Come into work and start doing vitals, tests and medications. But outside of that, every day is different. Patients are coming and going and often have a change in status. Something people don’t always realize is that nurses are also educators. We educate patients on going home and medications they’ll need to take as well as help their families learn what to do. We’re constantly looking for changes in patients to alert doctors, watching for lab results and answering call lights. All this goes into every 12-hour shift.
Jorge: In nursing, no two days are alike. There are constant changes in the everyday. Although we can anticipate a lot, there are a lot of adjustments we need to make as the day goes on.

How does nursing improve patient care?
Jeanette: Nurses are the eyes and ears for physicians. They might only see a patient once or twice a day but we’re with them 24/7. Every nurse has had a patient where they see a subtle change and then it turns into a serious situation. We see these changes as they happen and can get the interventions done. We can prevent bad outcomes because we see things as they happen and can help patients get the appropriate care right away.
Jorge: Like Jeanette was saying, we get to know our patients really well and can notice those subtle changes. We can walk in a room and notice something isn’t right. We’re constantly adjusting and because we’re at the heart of the hospital, we can help piece together care to get a good outcome.

How nursing is different at Edward-Elmhurst Health?
Jeanette: Our voices are heard and we are part of the decision-making process. Nurses can make a difference here. Our tagline is “It’s personal” and it rings true. We’re trained and empowered to give each patient personalized care.
Jorge: The culture here is different from other places where I’ve worked. Those in management are responsive and supportive and they make sure we are up to date on everything. We also rely on each other to get through the tough days. The teamwork and camaraderie are something that needs to be applauded.

To learn more about nursing at Edward-Elmhurst Health, visit us online.