The Nurse That Brings Saving Lives To The Next Level

I had the pleasure of meeting Tania Yarema thirteen years ago when traveling Nursing brought us to San Francisco and we settled into the ICU at UCSF Mt. Zion Hospital. I was working per-diem when Tania arrived for her travel assignment. Since then my critical care skills have narrowed to high-risk obstetrics. Tania, on the other hand is a highly respected critical care Nurse Practitioner that places central lines, intubates unstable patients and gives the term "saving lives" deeper meaning..

 How long have you been a nurse (and/or NP) and what areas of nursing did you or do you currently work in?  I relocated to the United States (Hays, Kansas) after graduating nursing school in Canada in 1996. Two years later, I moved to North Carolina for a critical care training program, before moving to San Francisco with my best friend as traveling Nurses.

I decided to go back to graduate school and completed an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Program at UCSF in 2008 and have been practicing inpatient critical care medicine ever since. One of my newest experiences in nursing is teaching.  As an Assistant Professor at UCSF School of Nursing, I have been enjoying teaching in the same program I graduated from. 

Tania with friends from UCSF Acute Care NP program

Tania with friends from UCSF Acute Care NP program

What do you love most about nursing? There are so many aspects of nursing that I love. Having the opportunity to help someone in their most challenging moments as a patient is the most rewarding aspect of my job. People are extremely vulnerable as patients, and if I can ease and comfort them along the way, I’ve done my job.

Tell me your biggest challenges or concerns about nursing.  Healthcare is big business and we have the potential to lose sight of what is really important, such as compassion, listening, education and humanity. With all of the incredible scientific advances in medicine, sometimes we lose sight of connecting with the people who need us most.

What throws you off balance and how do you know you are out of balance? When I have been working consecutive days in the ICU with high acuity, I can definitely get lost in the sadness of it all. I feel it physically, like a generalized heaviness that I cant shake.

What brings you back into balance?  Spending time outside with my son and people closest to me realigns me. It honestly takes a couple of days to lose the feeling of imbalance, especially if I have been having a particularly difficult week. I get so swept up in the moment and with other people’s lives that I often lose balance in my own. Recognizing how lucky we are to be healthy and happy is something I try to do each day.

Tell me about your most favorite nursing job and why.  I really love being a Nurse Practitioner but I would have to say, my favorite nursing job was at UCSF Mount Zion (MZ) Comprehensive Cancer Center. I was a bedside critical care nurse there for over 10 years. We specialized in surgical oncology and I loved our patient population. The nurses, doctors, and ancillary staff at MZ were the best of the best. The compassion and dedication that we provided to this patient population is something I will never forget, and will most likely never get to experience again.

What advice would you give to new grads starting out?  Please keep in mind why you went into nursing. It is a privilege to be able to help people in their time of need. They are so vulnerable and what you do will impact them for the rest of their lives.

Tania and her colleagues at CPMC

Tania and her colleagues at CPMC

Conference time! We don't know what we don't know.

I spent the past week in San Diego at NTI, a nursing conference put on by The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses. I was inspired and renewed surrounded by 8,000 nurses attending the conference. The speakers were dynamic and presented topics ranging from pharmacology, sepsis and evidenced based practices to health care reform and healthy work environments.

Just a few of the 8,000 nurses at NTI

Just a few of the 8,000 nurses at NTI

I was joined by a coworker and met some former colleagues. The hardest job I ever loved was working in the Intensive Care Unit of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. The staff was incredibly cohesive, supportive, professional and on top of their game. I left that position to move out West as a traveling nurse. Who would have guessed that Tamiesha, a traveling nurse from Baltimore put down roots in the very same unit at Sloan-Kettering and introduced herself to me at happy hour? Although we never worked along side each other, I felt a camaraderie with her as if we were from the same family of sorts. We had so much fun comparing notes on the cast of characters and our paths of our careers.

Tamiesha and I connecting at happy hour

Tamiesha and I connecting at happy hour

I also had the opportunity to connect with people who I had previously only known through social media, such as Katie Kleber from Nurse Eye Roll. Did you know that 30% of new nurses leave their job within the first year? That was one of many interesting factoids I learned in San Diego. Katie has done a great job supporting new nurses with her blog and her book Becoming Nursey. Stay tuned for a future post with my interview with Nurse Eye Roll.

This coming week I will be attending a High Risk-Obstetric Conference conveniently located in San Francisco. I’m looking forward to spending time with my coworkers and immersing myself in my specialty. If you have never been to a conference, I would encourage you to put one on your calendar this year or next year. I’ve been to NTI through AACN, ONS (oncology), AANN (neuro), Medical-Surgical Nursing Conference in San Francisco and Symposia Medicus. Ask your clinical nurse specialist for a recommendation or rally your coworkers to join you. It can light a spark if you are feeling a little stale or burned out. It also allows you the opportunity to compare your protocols with hospitals across the country, see new trends and you might even be inspired to do a poster presentation or speak at a breakout session. Someone told me they got a new job while waiting in line for the ladies room! So if your resume can’t progress beyond the recruiter, pack up some resumes and check out a nursing conference.