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How Nurses Make a Difference: Stories From the Frontlines

May 11, 2023

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Megan Bebout

GettyImages-1447362981-minBeing a nurse means more than being a medical professional. As a nurse, you’re also a cheerleader, caretaker, confidant, serviceperson, friend, and so much more. No matter your nursing experience or specialty, you make a difference in the lives of others on every day that ends in “y.” And we’re not the only ones who think so.

From the frontlines to Fusion Medical Staffing, here are five nurses who know first-hand the impact you make. These are their stories.


How Nurses Make a Difference: Stories From the Frontlines

 

A light in the dark

With a degree in psychology and a decade-long career in disability insurance, a life as a nurse wasn’t originally in the cards for Morgan Anderson, RN-C, BSN, CEFM. Yet, it was these experiences that seamlessly paved the way for her to become a labor and delivery (L&D) nurse and a hero to many.

Morgan became familiar with the medical world through her job in insurance. From reading medical records and deciphering a newfound language, she became intrigued by anatomy and physiology.

“Employers are always asking, ‘What fills your bucket?’” Morgan said. “That filled my bucket — talking to the [insurance company’s] clinical staff about these files and discussing what would cause a temporary or permanent disability.”

When one of her coworkers, who also happened to be a physician’s assistant (PA), asked if she ever thought about a career in nursing, Morgan thought: “Huh. I’ll be darned.” She knew she’d finally found the thing that would overflow her bucket.

A single mom to two young kids at the time, Morgan made the courageous decision to go back to school and get her nursing degree. She spent the next 12 years bringing hope and support to families at their most vulnerable. Through the years, she’d travel nurse with Fusion Medical Staffing and collect thank you cards, baby photos, and everything in between to remember all the lives she touched. Out of the thousands of people she helped, one family sticks out.

“[This] patient I will never forget,” Morgan said. “She was in the hospital for months because she was having twins — and the riskiest type of twins. She had a little boy also and he was the cutest little thing, a little toddler at the time. I would take him and go on walks, and it was nothing because we were like family. It was a hard situation that we had to make the best of, and we made it fun for him.”

To Morgan, the best part about being a nurse is “being that light in the dark.” She wanted to continue to be that for people, so she combined her corporate experience with her knowledge of the medical world and joined Fusion Medical Staffing as a clinical liaison. From state licensing information to issues on assignments to developing job applications, the clinical team helps make sure travelers are placed in positions where they’ll thrive.

“I have a unique perspective in that I did travel for Fusion before coming on internally,” Morgan said. “So, I knew the travel world. I knew nursing. I knew how travel nursing worked. Then I came in and realized there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff that goes on here that you just don’t know about. It was an eye-opening experience for me. But I have that unique ability to empathize with travelers and our internal [staff] because now I see the internal struggle of compliance and communication and all those things, but I also know the traveler struggle. I can talk to different travelers and field different concerns.”

In her role on the clinical team, Morgan continues to be a beacon of positive vibes for medical travelers from all backgrounds and specialties. Although nursing wasn’t part of her initial plan, it taught her valuable life lessons that she wouldn’t trade for the world. From these, Morgan aims to bring “a little less chaos, a few more smiles, and just a very long breath” to healthcare professionals everywhere.

Somebody to lean on

Whether it’s the first or hundredth time you’ve talked to him, Brady Willis, RN, BSN, has always had a way of making others feel safe and calm, like you’re old pals who go way back. This natural charisma has lived inside of him since he was a kid and helped guide him into a career in nursing, where he knew he could use his people skills to be somebody others could lean on.

“[It’s about] being able to help others,” Brady said. “I felt called to that. I always had a feeling that whatever I was going to do with my life, it would be helping other people.”

While in high school, Brady met another student with the same calling, and they quickly bonded over their shared interests. After graduating from high school, the two of them entered nursing school together. Little did he know, he’d call her his wife someday.

“My wife and I had been together for a while already and we wanted to move forward with getting married,” Brady said. “Nursing was a great opportunity to do that. We finished our first year while we were planning a wedding. Then, we got married, finished nursing school, and started nursing professionally. We were able to start our careers and do our life stuff, too.”

Not only did nursing provide the unique opportunity to make an impact, but it also offered job security, a steady paycheck, and the chance to travel the country as a travel nurse. In 2020, Brady and his wife started travel nursing with Fusion Medical Staffing. He, a post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) nurse, and his wife, an intensive care unit (ICU) RN, would travel for two years together before earning new titles as mom and dad to a beautiful baby boy.

“We ended up getting pregnant on one of our assignments,” Brady said. “So, we moved back home, and I took a local contract for the end of 2021 throughout all of 2022 until October. Then, we were in a situation where I had to choose to get up and travel again after just having a baby or go staff as a nurse somewhere.”

However, there was a third option. With help from his Fusion Medical Staffing travel nursing recruiter, Brady entered a new side of nursing and became a recruiter himself.

“Experience is key,” Brady said. “There wasn’t one assignment that I went on that I didn’t learn 100 new things. I feel like I can relate a little better to [travel nurses] because I’ve been there, I’ve done it. I understand their struggles and their wants and feel like I can connect on a different level [because of my nursing experience].”

As a travel nursing recruiter and in his daily life, Brady remains somebody others can lean on. Offering everything from friendly advice to problem-solving techniques, he motivates his fellow nurses to do what they do best: help others.

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The ultimate team players

It’s tough to narrow down what you want to do when you grow up. For Katie Lang, RN, BSN, the choice was between being a nurse or becoming a teacher. Even after volunteering at a local children’s hospital, the decision was still unclear. So, like many young people, Katie sought advice from her mother.

“I said to my mom, ‘What do you think I should do?’” Katie shared. “She said, ‘You know what? I think you’d make a great nurse and someday, you could always go into teaching nursing if you wanted to do that.’”

And with her mother’s encouragement, Katie started to envision what her life would be like as a nurse and decided to go to nursing school to make the fantasy come true. “Sometimes, you need your parents to highlight things for you,” she said.

But first, Katie made the most of her summer break working for the Walt Disney World college program as a hostess at Narcoossee’s in the Grand Floridian Hotel. While in Florida, she even jumped out of a plane over the Kennedy Space Center. “I would never do that today, but it was awesome,” Katie fondly reminisced.

When she returned home, Katie took the first step into her nursing journey and entered nursing school. After graduation, she started her nursing career in the trauma and transplant ICU.

“That will always and forever be my hardest job,” she said. “Even today, 20 years later, I’m always comparing to that job because that was nonstop thinking, moving, and praying that you’re doing everything right for the sake of the patients.”

Although it wasn’t easy, her time in the ICU helped shape Katie to be the nurse she was meant to be and reminded her of why she got into nursing in the first place: to make a difference in the lives of others. It was also here that she experienced the extraordinary teamwork between fellow nurses, as well as between nurses and other medical professionals.

“Nurses are the constant in healthcare,” Katie said. “They are the eyes and ears, and they pull on their ‘gut’ instincts and education every day to make quick decisions. Nurses are the ultimate team players. They work with all in healthcare — doctors, mid-levels, therapists, pharmacists, and of course, the patient.”

On her days off from the ICU, Katie hustled working part-time in the gastrointestinal (GI) lab expanding her medical expertise while helping a variety of different patients. After about eight years of bedside nursing, Katie transitioned into health education and became a certified diabetes educator. In this nursing role, she worked directly with patients to help train them on how to use a medical device. To sum it up, Katie said she has a “smorgasbord, an array of very different [nursing experience].”

It was her diverse nursing background that would lead her to become the director of clinical services at Fusion Medical Staffing after nearly two decades of practicing nursing. “If you would’ve told me when I was graduating from nursing school that I would be sitting at Fusion Medical Staffing 20 years down the road,” she said. “I’d be like, ‘What? Really?’ I would have no idea.”

With a desire to continue making a difference, Katie switched to a new side of healthcare where she could offer support to those on the frontlines. She now works alongside a “small but mighty team” of fellow clinical nurses who use their collective knowledge to ensure Fusion Medical Staffing travelers have the ultimate experience with every assignment. And since they’ve all been in the trenches themselves, they know the impact nurses have on those around them.

Not only has nursing piloted Katie’s career, but it also inspired her husband to make a change after nearly 15 years in business finance to become a nurse. After going back to school, he now has his doctorate in nurse anesthesia and practices as a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA). To say Katie is proud would be an understatement.

 

A voice of reason

Many people shy away from hospitals, but not Becca Sakada, RN, BSN. Instead of signing up for lifeguard duty or babysitting neighbors like her peers, Becca spent one of her summers in high school volunteering as a candy striper at her local hospital.

“It was really strange,” she said. “I just enjoyed being in the hospital. I don’t know what it was. There was an excitement to it.”

That spark of excitement flourished and steered Becca in the direction of her dreams: a nursing career. So, to nursing school she went. After graduating college, Becca got into the labor and delivery field, and “never looked back.”

“I got into L&D because I thought you could play with babies all day,” Becca chuckled. “Turns out, that’s not what you do. You do get to hold babies every now and then but really, they belong to mom and there’s a lot that goes into [L&D]. Luckily, I really enjoyed the rest of it. I always joke about how I got there. It wasn’t what I expected but ended up being a great situation.”

Over the next 15 years, including her time as a travel nurse, Becca worked with a myriad of different patients — from those in preterm labor to those with high-risk pregnancies. With each one, Becca gained a greater sense of satisfaction knowing she was making a difference.

“Being a nurse, you’re always helping somebody,” Becca said. “You’re always doing something to better somebody else’s life. You can’t walk away from that without feeling some sort of accomplishment.”

But her most memorable experiences as an L&D nurse are the ones where she got to work with her friends. Not because they were medical colleagues, but because they were pregnant. Those were the “sweetest times” because Becca gets to have a relationship with those kids even now.

“I get to see those babies,” she said. “I joke with the kids that I touched their head first or held them first. It’s really fun that I got to be a part of that really exciting experience for friends.”

While Becca was travel nursing, her recruiter switched companies and joined Fusion Medical Staffing. Even though she was traveling with a different agency, they kept in touch. Years later, when Becca had her own kids, she remembered this wonderful recruiter's positive influence on her and decided she wanted to be that for someone else. So, she reached out and landed a job as a Fusion Medical Staffing nursing recruiter.

“From my experience and having a medical background, I can be a voice of reason,” Becca said. “I try to be an advocate and sounding board. I’ve had a lot of travelers say, ‘It’s so great that you know what I’m talking about.’”

Her empathy, ability to understand, and passion for nursing have allowed Becca to make waves at Fusion Medical Staffing. By being a helpful resource to those around her, including travel nurses and teammates, Becca earned Fusion Medical Staffing’s “Rookie of the Year” award in 2022. Although she’s not currently working as a nurse in a hospital, Becca remains a “voice of reason” for her nursing recruits and fellow nursing recruiters in her day-to-day life.

The hearts and souls of healthcare

From a young age, Emily Hastings, RN, BSN, knew she was destined to care for others. As an older sister, she had lots of practice taking care of her younger siblings, whether that was offering advice, being an active listener, or tending to their cuts and bruises. When she grew up, Emily channeled those skills into making a difference as a nurse. Or, as she calls them, “the hearts and souls of healthcare.”

The decision to become a nurse was easy after Emily had the opportunity in high school to job shadow both a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) nurse and a pediatrician. After comparing the differences, she landed on a career in nursing.

“I realized a nurse aligned more with my personality,” Emily said. “I liked being at the bedside, the hand holding, the listening. Nursing was definitely a better fit for me.”

Her choice to become a nurse became even clearer when Emily’s best friend’s brother was diagnosed with lung cancer at 22. As a non-smoker, there were a lot of questions behind his case. From that experience, Emily’s fascination with healthcare and the human body grew. That’s what led her to an oncology internship, followed by six years as an oncology nurse.

Although Emily had the chance to work with patients of all ages as an oncology nurse, she always had a soft spot when it came to children. “I love kids,” she said. “They’re my passion. I truly think they make the world better.”

So, after six years in oncology, Emily transitioned to surgical services in pre/post-op and PACU for pediatrics only and began to work her magic on kids in need. She’d continue to change children’s lives for the better for years, taking a break only after learning she was about to welcome her own child into the world.

“I have always wanted to be a traveling nurse,” Emily said. “It was in my plan. I was going to travel with Fusion! We were going to go to Washington. I had an interview all set up and everything so that we could travel for a few years before we had kids. But surprise! My son decided to make an appearance. I actually found out I was pregnant with him the day before my [travel nurse job] interview.”

Born eight weeks early, Emily’s son spent over a month in the NICU after he was born. And while she had years of nursing experience, none of her medical knowledge brought comfort at that moment. What did help her were the NICU nurses who did everything they could to not only care for Emily’s son, but also for her and her husband. “Those NICU nurses saved my life as much as they saved his,” she said.

Luckily, Emily’s son grew to be happy and healthy, and within five years, Emily and her husband joyfully welcomed two more little ones. But when one of their daughters started having lung issues, Emily took a year off from nursing to spend more time with her children.

After a year of sabbatical, Emily was ready to get back to work. But instead of returning to the PACU, Emily put her nursing skills to good use in a different way. In the summer of 2022, she joined the nursing recruitment team at Fusion Medical Staffing.

“I love my kids,” said Emily. “But I love to work and give back in that way, too. [The way I see it is] I used to take care of patients and now I take care of nurses. I work every day for my nurses, and I want to give them the best that I can.”

And the best is exactly what her travel nurses get. Today, Emily makes a difference in the lives of travel nurses across the country by using her experiences to help fellow nurses find success in their careers. When she’s not kicking ass as a travel nursing recruiter, Emily soaks in all the quality time she can get with her three kiddos and gets to work on DIY house projects with her husband.

 

 

Fact: nurses make a difference in all the lives they touch. From mending minor injuries and healing life-threatening illnesses to offering a warm embrace or a listening ear, nurses do it all. Not only are nurses highly skilled medical professionals, but as these five extraordinary nurses say, they’re also the hearts and souls of healthcare, somebody to lean on, a light in the dark, a voice of reason, and the ultimate team player.

Interested in travel nursing with Fusion Medical Staffing? Search for Fusion Medical Staffing travel nursing jobs and connect with a travel recruiter today!

See our current nursing jobs at Fusion Medical Staffing!