Tiffany Asta RN joined OHC this January as a remote telephonic covid resource nurse.
She recently completed her Masters of Education in Health & Wellness Education. Well done Tiffany!
Here is her story:
1983- I was 14 years old – My life changed with the impact of two things that directed me toward nursing:
1. For years I had watched Frazier Thomas on Sunday afternoon’s ‘Family Classics’. Those movies, as well as reading books, made me realize that there is a whole world out there beyond the reaches of the safe suburban Chicago middle class life. Seeing ‘Out of Africa’, ‘Moby Dick’, ‘Treasure Island’, ‘Oliver Twist’, etc…exhibited upon my mind a world to explore. And the realization that many people all over the world do not have the luxurious, opportunistic, and free life we are comforted by here in America. These books and movies gave me a wanderlust to want to travel the world and explore. To want to meet people from all over the world and from all cultures – a future in the medical field would mean an endless supply of meeting new people from many different cultures.
2. I visited my beloved grandmother in the hospital … horrified with grief…as metastatic breast cancer stole her life away. Being 14, and hormonal, I was greatly affected by this. I was later told that she had symptoms of breast cancer four years prior, but never went to the doctor out of a fear of doctors, nurses, and hospitals.
It was these two factors that directed me to the medical field.
Coming from a family with parents who did not go to college, and who did not have a college fund for me, I realized that I would have to make it happen. I believed that instead of ‘waiting’ for the world to bring opportunities to me that I would instead make my own opportunities. Instead of seeing the walls of impossibilities in front of me, I decided to simply ‘make my own doors’ and walk through.
I worked hard after school with different low paying teenager jobs. Instead of socializing with others on work breaks, I would study in the grocery store produce cooler where I worked so my grades would stay high. For the decade of my twenties until age 32 I achieved most all of my dreams. I lived a glorious, romantic, adventurous life that I had carved out for myself. Whilst in college I did the Air Force and Army ROTC. I considered doing military nursing or surgery – but the Army kept losing my paperwork. This made me nervous, and I took it as a sign that it was not meant to be the direction I should go in. I instead succeeded in getting my associate degree, 2 bachelor degrees, my Master’s degree, and International Studies in at least a dozen countries all over the world. In between my globetrotting jaunts I would spend my nights after work in Chicago dancing Argentinean Tango, Salsa, Merengue, Bachata, etc…all after working long shifts of nursing at Rush St. Lukes Medical Center. For the International Studies and travels I could tell stories forever. Etched in my mind is the smell of the purest oxygen on earth as I explored the Amazon Jungle in South America, staying where no tourist would ever go, 5 hours down the river, in a hut 20 feet off the ground, no running water, no electricity, no service, surviving off a lot of bananas and rice. I would be up at dawn each morning to traverse the river fishing for that days meals, hoping not to be eaten alive by the piranhas and other predators of the jungle – It was an amazing time in my life! Did you know that as late as 2002 in the Amazon there was still tribes where the people have never seen or used electricity? And there are some tribes that date back so historically that they still have feet with splayed enlarged toes of which are unknown to civilized countries because we have all worn shoes for hundreds of years, and they never have? When you live like this time stops, and instead of living week to week like you do here in the States… you suddenly live moment to moment, hour to hour. This was also true when I studied in other places no matter where I went. Living in Italy navigating the beautiful cobblestone streets, touching the walls of the great cathedrals. I always would imagine the stories the stones could tell. Exploring the deserted islands off the coast of Portugal, going to school in Spain, exploring the Greek Islands, hiking up a live volcano in Costa Rica… Every country I went to offered more and more stimulating adventures and amazing people with amazing culture.
All these happenings always brought me back to the medical field. I fell into nursing because although I wanted to be a surgeon, I had no desire to go through my soon to be future pregnancies while in residency, and I also thought back to my grandma and realized that nursing was a calling. I would become a nurse that could care for all people from any age or culture, and that no one would ever feel intimidated by me. I would advocate for, instruct, and take care of everyone in the same manner whether they were a V.I.P. or person from another country with no formal education beyond grade school. It did not matter to me if there was a language barrier. I always found a way through to them.
For nursing I worked in Transplant for kidney, pancreas, and liver. I also enjoyed working in ER Trauma, MEd Surg, Home Health, School Nursing, Float Pool, Case Managment, Quality Control and Compliance, etc.. I fell into Occupational Health Nursing when someone for whom I had taken care of their child as a nurse in the past had remembered me and recruited me to this position with O.H.C. directly. For O.H.C. I am a Corona Virus Nurse Case Manager for Siemens. I love it as I have the privilege to talk to people from all over the nation with different cultures and backgrounds from all levels of the hierarchy of our workforce. My other job that I fell into at the same time is working part time as a Corona Virus Vaccination nurse and Test Site Nurse. It has been a long year for my husband and 3 teenagers as my husband is in the healthcare field as well. I am thankful for the steps we continue to take forward in healthcare, especially when it is preventative care.
For the next generation of nurses, I highly recommend you not follow your dreams – instead make your dreams happen yourself. I also recommend the nursing field as it is full of so many opportunities to grow, do a multi-faceted career, have the ability to have an effect on other people’s lives, and best of all to be able to switch areas if you so choose (ie; if you don’t like working in telemetry you can transfer and do ortho, etc…). The most important thing to remember is that everyone you have as a patient is somebody’s mother, sister, friend, neighbor, daughter, etc… And if you don’t go to bed at night knowing that you treated or did for that person the same you would for your own family; then that is a day you should not have worked as a nurse.