Samantha Wisnom never thought twice when she was considering what career to pursue in college. When she was in the eighth grade, her great-grandmother suffered a massive stroke and that was when she truly took an interest in the medical field.“My cousin was a nurse at the time, and I admired how knowledgeable she was during those last few weeks of my great-grandmother’s life and the care she provided her,” Wisnom reminisced.She began taking advanced science and anatomy classes in high school and then started looking at colleges with nursing programs.“It all happened very naturally,” she said.She graduated with a BSN from the University of South Carolina in 2016 and currently is enrolled in the school’s MSN program. She also is working as a cardiac nurse at Trident Medical Center.“I think it is a great specialty to be in because of its prevalence in today’s society, as heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women,” she pointed out.
She concluded, “The schoolwork is hard, and the job itself can be emotionally, mentally and physically exhausting. However, the impact you will make on patients’ lives will stick with them and you forever. It is such a rewarding job and worth all the bad days combined.”
MNA, APRN, CRNA
Janine Kovach can remember a particularly snowy night in New Jersey when she was only 5 years old. Her mother, a nurse, was picked up by the police and taken to work because the weather was too treacherous for her to drive.“I remember thinking how I wanted a job that was so important to people’s lives that a police officer would come get me if need be,” she said.She started out as a general tech doing patient care and then pursued a nursing degree. Her first job out of college was as a pediatric ICU nurse.“I loved every minute of it,” she exclaimed.“I finally got to the point where I wanted more knowledge and independence at work but also wanted critical care on a daily basis, so I chose to go to nurse anesthesia school. It’s the best decision I’ve ever made,” she said.
She now works for Anesthesia Associates of Charleston, providing quality anesthesia for patients in the Roper St. Francis Hospital System. She hopes to get into teaching in the near future so she can give back to the nursing community for all the guidance and education she received during her journey.
“I would tell aspiring nurses to go into nursing with the desire to be compassionate, lifelong learners. Health care is ever-changing, and our patients need us there not only to care for them but to advocate for them and their families,” she concluded.
BSN, MSN, RN
Kristen Schenkel found a role in nursing that combines her passion for financial management with her passion for nursing. As the nurse manager of staffing and resources at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center, Schenkel ensures that safe staffing levels are in place, and she works to retain the best nurses in the community to work at the VA.“I have been blessed to find a way to combine my passion for finance with my nursing leadership career,” she said.She started in health care as a patient care technician on the medical/ surgical unit at St. Joseph’s/Candler Hospital in Savannah, then went to the intensive care unit while attending nursing school. She completed her BSN and remained in Savannah, where she transitioned to an intensive care unit staff RN. After a few years of bedside nursing, she completed her MSN in nursing leadership and administration and moved into nursing administration as the nurse recruiter at the VA in 2016.“Research continues to show us that by increasing and improving staffing, we can reduce negative outcomes for our patients by up to 20%,” she pointed out. “I strive to ensure that not only do our veterans know they are receiving the safest care but that our staff know they are able to provide the safest care.”
MSN, RN, CNL
When Kathleen Gillard saw how a hospice nurse took care of her grandmother, she knew in that instant that she had to be a nurse.“The nurse that provided care for my grandmother had such dedication and vigilance to not just my grandmother but to my entire family. She made an indelible impression on how I saw nursing,” she reminisced. Gillard is currently working as a clinical nurse leader in the position of high reliability program manager at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center.“My father is a retired Navy veteran, and I couldn’t imagine a better way to return the favor of his service other than to be a nurse at the VA, caring for our nation’s veterans,” she said.Over the past decade, Gillard has submerged herself in her passion of hospice and medical/surgical nursing. She said she loves being a clinical nurse leader because she can remain hands-on and can also educate, as well as continue to influence the nursing practice.“Listen to your gut. If you have a feeling that something isn’t right, then question the actions of yourself and others to keep your patients safe,” she advised.