Meet Stephanie: An Empathetic Nurse with a Heart for Veterans
Name: Stephanie Nowakowski LPN
“For as long as I can remember, I have always been an empath. My heart goes out to others and I have a deep desire to help people in any way that I can. Nursing gives me the opportunity to extend my care to people who need it the most every single day. I love it.”
Background:Stephanie has taken an exciting trip down her nursing career path with a history that includes many different roles. She is a long-term care nurse at the moment and she has a deep passion for psychiatric nursing and one day would like to work with veterans to make a different in their life.
In the past, Stephanie has worked in a variety of settings, including the education sector and in the healthcare industry in a couple of different positions.
“I’ve worked at several facilities in my area, either as an STNA or a nurse. I’ve been a daycare teacher, a hairstylist, I went to school for phlebotomy… it took me awhile to figure out where I wanted to be. I’m not quite there, but I’m working on it.”
Why She Became a Nurse: Stephanie certainly has an extensive background working in the healthcare industry, but surprisingly, this is not the primary reason she became a nurse. The truth is that her empathetic heart has always been in tune with the challenges that the people around her face on a daily basis. In fact, it was the experience of watching someone she loved struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder that inspired her to become a nurse in the first place.
“I was with someone who has PTSD from the military. I saw all of the hoops he had to jump through and realized that they needed someone to fight for their care and help cut through the red tape.”
Professional Challenges: Stephanie has certainly achieved a lot in her career, but that’s not to say it was by any means easy to get to where she is today. As a single mother, working through nursing school with a child is certainly a challenge. In fact, getting through a rigorous nursing program was nearly impossible, and she is thankful her parents were there to help her get through it. In her own words: “I’m a single mom. Getting through nursing school with a kid is hard, even in a relationship. I couldn’t have done it without my parents’ help.”
Professional Experience: A veteran is the one who inspired Stephanie to become a nurse. As she began working in the healthcare industry, she quickly realized how well she worked with other veterans too. Stephanie is the type of person who you can feel comfortable to be around, even if it is the first time you meet her. For people who suffer from PTSD, this type of warmth is inviting and provides opportunities to vent about the issues that trouble them, something that is very therapeutic for people who suffer from this condition.
“The veterans take to me very well. I can’t pick a favorite, but I let them talk to me. Tell me stories. I let these tough, burly men cry in front of me and I don’t judge them. I just thank them.”
Stephanie’s Advice for a Someone Pursuing a Nursing Degree:
“Study hard, but don’t focus on test scores too much. Jobs don’t care what your grades were. It matters how you treat your patients and how you develop your skills. Focus on that. Treating people right. Being empathetic with others. Improving your use of time management. These are the skills that are going to make the biggest difference in your success as a nurse.”