I had the pleasure of meeting Kate Marowitz four years ago when we both were hired to be guides for Backroads, an active travel company. Kate and I compared notes over the years of how our experience as Nurses complemented our work as guides. After four years, Kate is shifting her focus to advancing her career in Nursing.
How long have you been a nurse and what areas of nursing have you worked in? I have been a nurse for 7 years now. My first job was on a Medical/Oncology unit with amazing nurses that taught me the core of the knowledge, skills, and compassion that still drives my day-to-day practice currently. After being reshuffled following Hurricane Sandy at NYULMC, I found myself working in the ER. NYU was closed for 3 months after the storm, the basement flooded 18 feet of water, taking out our entire ER and almost all of our diagnostic equipment (which were all in the basement level). Over two hundred patients were evacuated in the dark via med-sleds down stairs with help from emergency personal, to meet ambulances that drove from all over the east coast to help out! It was amazing!
From the ER, I had a travel nurse assignment as a float nurse at NY Presbyterian, where I worked on a different unit every shift. That year I worked everything, from acute rehab, to heme-onc, neurosurgery and stroke, organ transplant, general medicine, orthopedics. You name it, I worked it. Now I am back working on a hematology/oncology/BMT unit.
What do you love most about nursing? What I love most about nursing is the variety. Not only is every day different, but even the start of your shift to the end of your shift could be totally different. Nursing is part critical thinking, part hands on technical skills, and part compassion and empathy. After 7 years of working as a nurse, I still learn something new every shift, I still cry with and for patients, I still miss IVs on the first shot… my day is never predictable or boring.
Tell me what you consider the biggest challenges or concerns about nursing today. The biggest challenge of being a nurse today, is meeting the expectations of a consumer driven health care system. Our work environment is trending toward hotel visits as opposed to hospital stays; this at times leaves patients with unrealistic expectations of what it is like to be admitted to a hospital. My day is filled with managing expectations… and charting!
You recently made a decision to change your lifestyle as a Nurse and Guide for Active Travel to start a path towards a Nurse Practitioner degree. What led to that decision? Hardest decision ever! An amazing aspect of nursing is how flexible you can make your career! After 4 years of working half the year as a travel nurse and half the year working for an active travel company, I found myself wanting to take the next step in my career. The work of a bedside nurse is so rewarding, I don't think there is a job in the hospital that impacts patients to a greater extent, however, over the past few years I have felt the desire to have more autonomy in my career. I really want the knowledge base to make more clinical decisions, and I think going for a NP degree is the perfect next step.
What throws you off balance and how do you know you are out of balance? I definitely get thrown off balance by a lack of self-care, especially a lack of sleep. When you work multiple back-to-back shifts, it seems you can never quite get the proper amount of sleep to make it through a 13-hour shift on your feet. I often make up for a lack of sleep with an increase in caffeine consumption! After a long stretch of work, I struggle at times being productive on my days off, and I know then that I am off balance.
What brings you back into balance? Even when I am completely exhausted, I always try to do something for myself that will give me some energy, and “me” time. Whether a bike ride, yoga class, or just a walk in the park, getting moving does wonders for your energy levels.
Tell me about your most favorite nursing job and why. I don’t think I will ever love a job as much as I loved my first nursing position! I worked with the most wonderful people, and the nursing staff worked so well as a team, it was a great working environment. Many of the staff I worked with, will be life-long friends, and we have been through so much together. From the unit secretaries, to the PCTs, to the nursing staff, we were a real family!
What advice would you give to new grads starting out? My advice to new graduates would be… stay with it! It gets easier! The first year of being a nurse is so challenging! My first year, I took every patient home with me, and thought about my patients all the time… I cried a lot! To survive your first year, get to work early! Spending 20 minutes before your shift starts to read notes, helps you walk into the day with a much better understanding of what is going on with your patients, this is something I still do. Treat your PCTs, and NA with respect, you have so much to learn from them, and they can be your biggest asset. Ask questions, always! Lastly, find a healthy outlet to tap into on your days off, something that gets your mind off of work! You will be much better at caring for others, if you take care of yourself.