If asked to think about what a nurse does, you’d likely picture someone checking on a patient in a hospital room or performing physical exams at a doctor’s office. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The reality is there are many different kinds of nurses—all with different roles and day-to-day responsibilities. For example, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan employs a team of nurses who work in care management, a group that, among other things, helps transition members from being in a hospital to going home, manage chronic conditions and coordinate care with providers. In honor of National Nurses Week, which runs through May 12, we wanted to feature a handful of those nurses and the amazing work they do.
Christine Whitefoot, RN: “I went back to school to pursue nursing at a transitional time in my life: my father had been diagnosed with ALS and my sister, who had been a nurse for a decade, was consistently one step ahead planning for my father’s needs. I was in awe. When I graduated from nursing school, I first became a hospice nurse so I could help patients and their families cope with the physical and emotional aspects of end of life. As nurses, we are privy to the most private moments in someone’s life. I’ve been there at the beginning of life watching babies get born to the end of life where I comforted a dying man who was alone and afraid. Nursing is such a privilege and I’m so honored to be one.”
Jodie Weiler, RN: “It’s my job to assist members, their families and caregivers to make the transition from the hospital to home as safe as possible. This includes making sure the members know exactly what they need to do and that either they or their caregivers can handle it. I also help coordinate follow-up appointments and talk to the patient about any further warning signs or symptoms. I love that I’m able to help people—I give them the confidence to take control of their health.”
Christine Horne, RN: “Many members feel overwhelmed with their health conditions and frustrated with trying to navigate the health care system, so a large part of what we do here is provide emotional support. I’ve worked in so many different nursing roles during my career, but I enjoy that now I get to know the member and their needs and that I can spend time working on health education. I feel like I’ve accomplished something when a member tells me I’ve helped them during a difficult time in their lives.”
Brittany Frede, RN: “I most enjoy that I can help each person I interact with. Some days it’s just listening to a caregiver vent about the difficulties of providing 24-hour care to their loved one, other times it’s bringing someone back to life by performing CPR. Being able to work every day as a nurse allows me to be a helper in a world that sometimes seems short on them, which is incredibly rewarding.”
Melenna Reece, RN: “I’m all about educating and empowering people to be proactive in managing their care. One way I do this is by talking to members on the phone about their medical conditions, how to manage symptoms, the importance of taking medications as prescribed and coming back for a follow-up visit with their primary care physician. I want patients to avoid having to get readmitted to a hospital once they leave and go home. My job is very rewarding. I love the success stories and feeling like I’m helping people manage their care and conditions better than they’d been able to in the past.”
Effie Culp, RN: “As a nurse, I enjoy knowing that I’m carrying on a family tradition. I have four aunts and three cousins who all became nurses. And the most influential person in my life, my Aunt Gloria, was the director of nursing at a hospital. I’m proud to carry on those traits and follow in their footsteps.”
Karen Ziolkowski, RN: “My role includes being a listener, teacher, coach and liaison for members. Nursing is a meaningful challenge to learn, earn and return. I learn with a group of knowledgeable colleagues who are determined, compassionate and professional. I earn the trust of members as I work to improve their health and wellness. As for the return, I am making a great difference in their lives and others affiliated with Blue Cross. I can’t imagine a more rewarding field.” For more ways Blue Cross employees dedicate themselves to helping others, check out these blogs: