Going Beyond Limits with Cassandra Church, RN
What type of nurse are you?
What are your credentials?
RN,BSN, MBA (Expected graduation Oct 16)
Where do you work?
Acute Care, Bloodless Medicine and Surgery as an Operations Manager
Why did you decide to become a nurse? And why did you choose your particular field of nursing?
Most of the women in my family have worked in health care. We have CNAs, LPNs, and RNs in the family. I have been exposed to the field my entire life. I enrolled into a Vocational/Technical high school and received training as a CNA from ages 14-17. This included afternoons completing clinical in a long term care facility.
As soon as I graduated from high school, I was able to sit for the boards and obtained a position as a CNA, while starting my coursework/degree for my BSN. As a CNA I realized, that no matter how hard the day was, or the difficulty of the patients and workload at times, I enjoyed my job, and my purpose. I was fulfilled helping others, at a time when they were most fragile.
Eventually after tossing around the idea of considering other career choices such as journalism, or communications, I realized that I was happiest here, and felt that I was built to be a nurse. I continued in the BSN program while working as a CNA in long- term care and maternity. I completed an RN externship in The Neuroscience Trauma SICU, and transitioned to the unit as a CNA after the externship, while completing my final year of college.
I worked with brilliant Nurses and Physicians. They were passionate about medicine, nursing, education, teaching opportunities, and most importantly their patients. They allowed me to cross train in the Emergency Department, and the Trauma SICU. Eventually, after graduation I decided I wanted to become a trauma nurse to start my career. My first nursing role out of school was as a Trauma SICU nurse. The experience was challenging, and worth it.
Tell us about your field of nursing.
The greatest aspect about nursing is that the opportunities are endless. Everything may not be a fit for you, but at least one thing will be, if you are passionate enough about nursing to search out your niche.
I’ve worked in long-term care, acute care, critical care, healthcare administration, hospice, case management, and education….many different roles. I am grateful for all of my experiences which greatly developed my character.
I currently function as an Associate Director/ Operations Manager within a large health system. The day to day varies. My responsibilities include, managing a staff, managing the budget, developing and coordinating symposiums, public speaking, multiple meetings throughout the day with staff and leadership. I also do rounds weekly on patients with a hematologist. Moreover, I am also in-charge of marketing new programs and writing departmental policies.
My advice for nurses wanting a career change within nursing, would be to do a very thorough self- evaluation, consider your strengths, weakness, likes and dislikes. Consider areas you want to improve on and set a plan in motion to work towards those goals,be as specific as possible. There is so much we do not know about ourselves. Then decide, with everything you have learned about yourself, where do I want to be.
If you desire to be a CEO, but work on the unit, consider working towards leadership roles on the unit as charge nurse, then supervisor, unit manager and so forth. These tiny steps will lead to the goal you have in mind. The best advice I have ever received, and has always worked, has been to pray to Jehovah for direction, and to work in harmony with my prayers. This has led to opportunities, experiences and connections I could have never imagined.
What do you love about your job?
The best part about my job is the ability to help others, and the diversity within nursing. I have a great staff. They exceed expectations, and are patient focused. What is in the best interest of the patient and program has been their focus. It is an honor to wake up happy and excited to go to work, and to work among staff member that feel the same way. Happiness is contagious, and our work environment is flooded with it. We support each other.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
The most challenging part is when patients have poor health care outcomes.
Often, nurses do not talk about it, but we bond with our patients and family members. It can be disheartening when they do not survive, or their condition worsen. There’s a hopeless feeling, where you want to help, but there is nothing you can do after a certain point. We will never feel it to the degree that the family, and patient experience it. But we do feel it. You take it home with you often in the beginning, over time, you learn to leave it, but it still happens from time to time.
That feeling of knowing this doesn’t get better for the person can be agonizing at times. I think this is why most nurses are resilient, it takes so much out of you; but you still have to find something to give to your next person.