If You Really Want to Help People, Become a Nurse

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My name is Tammy Ronstadt, and I'm the director of provider practice operations for Heritage Valley Health System. I'm in charge of running our convenient care clinics, and I also run two occupational medicine facilities.

When did you realize you wanted to go into nursing?

I was in 11th grade. Mr. Polonius, he was my anatomy and physiology teacher in high school, and he was teaching us about atherosclerosis, which is a hardening of the arteries.

He brought in a flexible pipe and a not flexible pipe, one was hard and had gunk in it from the car. And he said, this is your arteries when they're clogged up. This is when they're nice and clean. See how water flows through them? This is how blood works. I was like, "Oh my gosh, I want to be a nurse!"

I started nursing school when I was 17. I'm always available to people to help them. And I just feel that's what I was called to do. Whether it's that you need stitches, or you just need someone to talk to you, I can do both. My nursing career has allowed me to be extremely flexible. It has given me the tools to have time with my family, to enjoy my family. I also have two Bichons — Noelle and Michaela — and then we just added a pug to our family. They get along great.

I think I definitely made the right choice when I was younger, coming into this nursing career — absolutely. I don't think I would change anything.

Would you recommend someone become an LPN?

Coming right out of high school, nursing is definitely the way to go. Any kind of nursing field, whether you want to be an RN, licensed practical nurse (LPN) or nurse practitioner. It is the field of the future. It really is! You will always have a job. There's never going to be a shortage [of jobs] in nursing. We are greatly in need.

What would you tell someone thinking about getting into nursing?

Make sure that you know that you can be patient with people, that you can be compassionate, that you're willing to work long hours. You have to also realize that people are born, people die, and you're going to be part of that. You might be part of the birthing process, you might be part of the death process. You have to be there for them. So you see all the different human emotions.

To anyone who's thinking about being a nurse, personality-wise, I think it's important that if you really are going to love your job, you have to have patience with people, you have to want to care for people. You have to want to help.

Nursing gives you so many options. You can work in the hospital system, you can work in a nursing home, you can work in insurance. You can do a Monday through Friday job if you want. You can work strictly weekends. You can work evenings. You can work nights — there are so many options. There are multiple opportunities for pay advancement, there are multiple opportunities for changing your career.

I think if you've got that kind of personality, if you've got that kind of kindness — a gentle soul — that's going to be really helpful. And there are lots of good nurses who are like that — lots of them.

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