I am dedicated to getting past the hype, hoopla and obfuscation so everyone can understand the healthcare system.
I graduated from NYU with a degree in English and a desire to work in advertising. After a few years of learning the art of convincing people to want things they don't need, I had a spiritual crisis and then, sitting zen meditation for the first time, an epiphany. I spent the next decade devoted to spiritual practice, including two years training to be a nun in a zen buddhist monastery in upstate New York. The combination of serious health problems and the desire to be of more tangible service to the world led me to the study of Chinese Medicine. After graduating with my Master of Science in Oriental Medicine, and jumping through the requisite hoops, the state of New Mexico gave me the title Doctor of Oriental Medicine. It was in acupuncture school that I decided I also wanted to study Western medicine, because I benefited from both. I wanted to offer people the same medicine I took.
I chose nursing, not because I wanted to be a nurse, but because it was a course of study I could do part time, and thanks to community college, at a reasonable expense. I thought I could get the knowledge and some clinical experience, and take it back to my acupuncture practice. I did not expect to love the practice of nursing, but I did. It was hands on service work, that made a tangible difference in people's lives. It also offered a regular paycheck and good health insurance, serious lures for a single mother with a young child. When I got my nursing license I started working full time as a nurse, grateful that I could get pay and benefits for doing something that satisfied my soul.
That doesn't mean I gave up Chinese medicine. The years of spiritual practice and different worldview inform my life and work. That past experience gave me a perspective on Western medicine, and how patients should be treated, that I saw missing in other clinicians.
I learned my nursing chops on a good med-surg unit at a nice suburban hospital. Med-surg means expect any and everything - if a patient didn't fit into other units' slots (post op, cardiac care, ICU) they were sent to Five North. I learned a lot, fast, from the best nurses out there.
My first year nursing was the hardest and most educational year of my life. There is no other profession that requires both sides of the brain the way nursing does. After three years I felt confident enough about my skills to start doing home health nursing. I would see 6-7 patients a day, in their homes, most of them just discharged from a hospital. I assessed not only their physical condition, but also how they lived. Could they bath themselves? How did they actually get their prescriptions from the pharmacy? Did they have transportation to their medical appointments? I loved home health, loved forging relationships with my patients and treating them in a truly holistic way. I did not love the dysfunctional, disrespectful, chaotic management I worked under, so when a small inheritance gave me the financial opportunity, I quit.
I have been on the outside, inside, patient and practitioner, family caregiver and professional nurse. After 16 years in healthcare, most of them in the belly of the Western beast, I am an expert on the dynamics that help and hurt the patient experience. I have always been an advocate of evidence-based, compassionate care, and am now dedicating my time and writing talents (remember, I used to write ad copy!) to showing the power and pitfalls of this American system of healthcare.
I live in Evanston, IL with my teen age son.