Brittany Patel, RN, CAPA, considers herself a lifelong learner. It’s what drew her to UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital as a pediatric nurse, and what keeps her there.
“The university has a lot to offer,” says Patel, interim assistant nurse manager in the pediatric surgery preparatory and recovery ward. “It’s a huge academic medical center. You always learn new skills here and there is always an opportunity to grow into something else. I don’t feel like I ever have a day exactly like another.”
The Road to UI Healthcare
Patel arrived at UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital in December for her first day as a nurse. 2017 felt a bit like she had won the lottery.
“UI Health Care was the organization you always heard about growing up,” she says. “I’ve always known that pediatrics was where I wanted to end up, and we have a really great pediatric program.
In her role as a staff nurse, Patel says working with pediatric patients and their families has always been something special.
“We sometimes saw them on really difficult, scary days,” she says. “To be able to accommodate these pediatric patients, help them through a really hard day, and then hold their hand while you take them to their car, so satisfying.”
Chance to rise
Partly through her participation in the UI Hospital & Clinics Nurse Residency Program, Patel quickly realized she could go as far as her imagination and work ethic could take her.
“The Nurse Residency program was very appealing,” she says. “It’s not something that many other hospitals do. During that transition after nursing school, the program allows you to connect with nurses in other units who have also recently graduated.
Once at UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital, Patel transitioned from a staff nurse to a head nurse and then, in March 2021, took on the role of interim assistant nurse. She attributes her rapid growth to a collaborative environment that nurtures professional growth.
“We have a very open door policy, both with each other and with leadership,” says Patel. “If you have a question or concern about something, you can get it answered. After your orientation period, you will meet with leadership several times a year to work on your goals and what they can do to help you achieve them.”
A cohesive environment
Patel says UI Health Care has the kind of atmosphere where coworkers evolve into friends and confidants.
“Pre-pandemic, when it was much easier to get together in large groups, our unit went on regular outings,” she says. “We’d meet up for dinner, or a place where you can make crafty things. We would always do that kind of team building activity outside of work. That makes our unit special.”
Today, the possibilities for Patel still seem limitless. Maybe even more than when she started.
“When I graduated, I just had my associate degree in nursing,” she says. “I am currently working for my master’s degree. In the short time I’ve been here, I’ve also looked for a certification that applies to the unit I’m working on. The university does a great job of showing you what’s in nursing and then helping you get there.’
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