We recently spoke with one of our NurseGrid Ambassadors to hear and share her story with our community. Give it a read and let us know if you'd like for us to share your story!
Ellyn Wirth, RN, BSN, is a NurseGrid Ambassador born and raised in Columbus, Ohio. She’s an interventional radiology nurse providing care in Ohio and a mom of two boys. Ellyn took some time out of her very busy schedule to share her story with the NurseGrid team. Read on to learn about Ellyn’s journey and hear her words of wisdom for other nurses.
NurseGrid: Tell me a little bit about yourself!
Ellyn: I’m from Columbus, OH, born and raised here. I’m a mom of two boys, 6 and 8. I went to Chamberlain College of Nursing, and I’ve been a nurse for a little over two years. This is a second career for me. I was a preschool teacher before, and I worked with special needs kids. It got me interested [in nursing] – we had a lot of medically fragile children.
[After nursing school] I started in the ER, which was a really hard place to start, but I loved it, learned a lot, got a lot of really good experience. Then I did vascular thoracic surgical floor nursing, on an intermediate ICU step-down.
NurseGrid: What were your biggest takeaways from making the move from the ER to the vascular thoracic surgical floor?
Ellyn: I learned a lot there. Floor nursing is very different from ER nursing, I had to hone my skills, and really work on time management and organization. [The step-down was] very all over the place, it’s not structured like the floor. You just go with whatever you need to go with. Your assessments have to be at a certain time, your checks are at a certain time, your meds are at a certain time. That’s all floor nursing.
On the floor, I was able to bond with my patients more. [My facility was] really good about continuity of care, where if I worked 2 or 3 days in a row, I would have the same patients. You build a bond with them and possibly with their family members, build good trust and rapport, so I’ve really liked that aspect of it the most. And also I’m really into cardiothoracic stuff, I learned a lot of it in the ER and from that floor, I learned a ton, as far as the different surgeries they would have.
NurseGrid: That sounds like such a rich, diverse experience. What sort of nursing do you provide now?
Ellyn: Interventional radiology, so we do peripheral and vascular stuff. Interventional radiology was originally where I wanted to be. It’s a newer field of nursing and medicine in general. Basically, they use imaging, usually X-ray but sometimes CT, sometimes ultrasound, and the doctor uses that to guide their treatment. A lot of times we get patients who are too unstable for surgery – they’ll come to us and it is a critical care area. We do over 80 different procedures, [including] putting in ports… dialysis catheters, temporary and permanent… cryoablations… [and] embolization for bleeds and tumors.
I’m a sedation nurse – we sedate up to moderate sedation. I also monitor vitals and the patient’s respiratory status. I document the entire procedure, so what I’m doing and what the doctor’s doing.
NurseGrid: You do a whole lot! It sounds like it could be exhausting.
Ellyn: Yeah! It can be physically exhausting too. On a busy day, we do a lot of cases, and we have to wear full-body lead which wears you out. It’s wrapped all around your whole body – a full vest, the thyroid shield, and a lead skirt. You have it off in between cases but it can definitely wear your body out.
NurseGrid: I’m glad to hear you’re where you wanted to be! What drew you to nursing in the first place? What happened between teaching and nursing that made you decide that this was the path for you?
Ellyn: I’m a third generation RN. My mom and my grandma were both nurses. We have a lot of nurses in my family and also a few doctors. Sometimes I would go to my mom’s work and help her. I liked how she worked with kids, so it was always something I wanted to do. My grandma always told me I’d be a good nurse. I think when I hit 18, math and science weren’t really my best subjects. I think I also maybe wasn’t mature enough to be a nurse at the time. So I went to college and played around and kind of fell into the younger education world. [Nursing] was always a dream of mine, in the back of my mind, I just had never really pursued it.
I had also heard a lot of talk about all these baby boomers that are nurses and getting ready to retire and the aging population needing so much medical care, and read a lot of articles on nursing shortages and how they’re just going to keep increasing. With all of that, it ended up that the time was right and I never looked back. Hard work but I love it.
NurseGrid: Do you have any advice or words of wisdom for people who haven’t figured out what they want to do yet and are trying to find a specialty or a home for themselves at a hospital?
Ellyn: I would say don’t be afraid to take risks and try new things. I think it’s good to network, ask around to your friends and colleagues, friends from nursing school.
NurseGrid: You’ve come a long way over the last five years. You’ve transitioned into a totally new career, found your home there. Do you have dreams or goals for the rest of your nursing career?
Ellyn: I’d like to get my Masters, possibly going into either education or nurse leadership, like into management. The education aspect would be combining both worlds of my former career and nursing, and I love that type of mentoring role.
Ultimately, I love helping people. It’s always been my goal and it’s always been my biggest reason for going into nursing, to help people heal and help ease their pain and calm them down. This is definitely something I’m going to stick with forever. It’s a challenging career, but it’s very rewarding.
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