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A career as a nurse can bring both gratification and opportunity

McLaren nurses share their journeys to health care: How nursing careers make an impact

McLaren Macomb
McLaren Macomb nurses, Marleen and Leslie.

“The experience I had while they were in the hospital is what got me into nursing and made me want to be a nurse,” said Marleen.

Marleen, a mother of two, had both of her babies born before reaching the full term of her pregnancies.

But witnessing the care her boys received from their nurses while staying in the hospital for weeks made a significant impact on her and the direction of her life.

“I saw the phenomenal care they gave, but what they couldn’t compare to is that none of them have left a baby in the hospital,” said the McLaren Macomb nurse. “They couldn’t understand what I was going through, so I wanted to be able to do that for other parents.”

Now, with the advantage of knowledge and experience as a hospice and ICU nurse, Marleen has been provided opportunities in her career to progress and advance.

Marleen moved into a leadership position, managing the busiest and most experienced trauma center in Macomb County at McLaren Macomb.

In a similar way, Courtney, trauma program manager at McLaren Oakland, found nursing incidentally.

“I was actually going to college for teaching,” she said, “and wasn’t really loving it.”

Spending the summer as a camp counselor, Courtney became the camp’s medical director — managing the campers’ medications and communicating with parents about their wellbeing.

Courtney said she had never thought about working in the medical field but realized it was something she might enjoy. “Doing that job really turned me to nursing.”

Motivation to pursue an impactful nursing career can come from anywhere. Marleen and Courtney were both also motivated to nurture their careers – each worked and took courses to earn advanced nursing degrees.

For Leslie, it was a different road but a similar result.

She took a more traditional approach and set off to college motivated to graduate and pursue a nursing career. After school, she found herself as a recent grad on a McLaren Macomb unit with the responsibility of caring for patients’ lives.

“I think I was equal parts excited and scared because I was faced with this new responsibility of taking care of patients and their family members,” Leslie said. “It was scary in the beginning, but I quickly embraced my new role, and I had great support.”

While working, Leslie continued her education, earned an advanced degree and became a nurse practitioner.

Recognizing Leslie’s skills as a clinician, contributions as a member of patient care teams, and ability to lead and encourage colleagues, McLaren Macomb’s hospital leadership promoted her, giving her the task of coordinating its robust joint replacement program.

With years of working as nurses on inpatient units, Marleen, Courtney and Leslie each said that they are glad their promoted roles still allow them the rewards of patient interaction.

“I am still having that rewarding feeling because I’m having that direct patient contact,” Leslie said. “Doing a lot of pre-operative education with the patients and their families, that contributes to better patient outcomes and their quality of life drastically improves.”

While these nurses didn’t enter the profession to ascend to leadership positions, all have found their work rewarding in different ways, one being in working with physicians and providing valuable input in the overall care of the patient.

“Physicians are very data-driven, so it’s getting them to understand why we’re making these process changes — what the goal is and what the outcome will be for the patient,” said Marleen. “To see those outcomes, it’s an awesome feeling.”

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