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  • Writer's pictureDakota Felckowski

The Nightingal

In order to carve a path for success in your life and in your career, you have to step outside of your comfort zone and try new things. This truly has been the driving factor behind my nursing journey, as well as the inspiration for this nursing podcast.

When I embarked on my journey as a Registered Nurse in 2014, I was 100% sure that I had landed my DREAM job as an Emergency Department RN. At this point in my life I was certain that the ED life was for me and that I would later continue on in the pursuit of becoming a Emergency Department Nurse Practitioner. Little did I know...there is a whole wide world of opportunities out there for someone who has the credentials, RN, after their name, and I hadn't even seen a sliver of it yet.

Once the honeymoon phase of my first RN job had ended and I had experienced the full reality of what it would be like to be an ED Nurse Practitioner, I was faced with my first opportunity to dive head first into unknown waters. I now had my sights set on the bright lights of the operating room and the goal of becoming a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA). Little did I know that my first detour on the road to a graduate degree would not stop here.

The new goal of CRNA came at a time when my husband and I were moving to Iowa so that he could start his four difficult years of Pharmacy School, and I could begin working in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in pursuit of the ICU experience needed to apply for CRNA school. I promise that I didn't just randomly pick to work in the NICU, I had my reasons. But unfortunately, it didn't take me long (a couple of weeks... to be exact) to realize that this girl is not meant to be a NICU nurse. Around this time, I was introduced to the nurse manager of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) and together we decided that this environment was more up my alley.

Thank goodness for second chances because I was able to transition into this role quickly, and loved the acuity and variety that this unit offered. It was after being here for a little more than 6 months when I decided two things. Number 1, I LOVED pediatrics and couldn't imagine a career doing anything else. Number 2, the dream of becoming a CRNA was no longer a reality, and I now had the passion of becoming Nurse Practitioner. The greatest part about this decision was that Nurse Practitioner would allow me the flexibility to change my trajectory throughout my career (because we all know that this is bound to happen) and pursue different interests as they arose.

In the Spring of 2016, I was accepted to Rush University College of Nursing and would soon begin the full time pursuit of the degree of Doctorate of Nursing Practice: Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner. In an effort to not live my life at a stress level of MAXIMUM, I thought that I would benefit from exploring the world of outpatient nursing and take a position in a Family Practice Clinic. The hours were appealing, I would learn a lot of new things, and I would get a glimpse into the life of a primary care provider. I had the best intentions, but this was not my best career decision.

It did not take me long to remember that I, Dakota Felckowski (Schrader at the time), enjoyed the fast paced, high intensity, adrenaline provoking, atmosphere of the critical care world. However, this world was also accompanied by rotating shifts, weekends, and high stress. I chose to compromise and return to the hospital setting and give those bright lights of the Operating Room (OR) one more shot. Well, I got this nursing opportunity half right. After I began my new position on the Urology/Gynecology team in the OR I was soon informed that my beloved pediatric patients would no longer be seen in our hospital, as they were opening a brand new children's hospital. This may not sound like a big deal, but it most definitely is when you are a fairly new nurse and you are currently in school for PEDIATRIC NP!

Therefore, I reached out to the manager of the Pediatric Operating Room and made a seamless transition into another new role. It turns out, this was one of those detours where you are really happy that you got a flat tire and had to explore somewhere new. I almost immediately was promoted to the position of Charge Nurse and received a crash course in being in a leadership role. This was a HUGE opportunity for me to discover that I enjoyed being viewed as a leader within my team, and that I excelled at something that I hadn't known was possible.

In a typical Dakota pattern, around my one year Pediatric OR anniversary, I was no longer feeling fulfilled in my current position. That fast paced, high intensity, adrenaline provoking, atmosphere of the critical care/emergency care world was consuming my thoughts. Thanks to the suggestion of a friend, I accepted the once in a lifetime opportunity of joining the Neonatal Pediatric Transport team. This position was just as amazing as it sounds. Combining my love for pediatrics, Emergency and ICU, the transport team provides ambulance and helicopter transports for patients from all over Iowa.

Tragically, I had gotten so mesmerized by the opportunity in front of me, that I had forgotten those rotating shifts, weekends, high stress, and in this position in particular, mandatory overtime. For a full time student in a DNP program, this was less than ideal. Especially if I wanted to make it to my two year wedding anniversary. It was just a few weeks into my orientation of this wonderful opportunity that I had to make the extremely challenging decision to put in my notice that I would be leaving the team.

Thankfully, I was welcomed back to the Pediatric OR in a PRN capacity so that I could focus on my education, and my family. I am now just eight months away from graduating with my DNP. I continue to work PRN in the Pediatric OR and have recently accepted a PRN position in an Emergency Department back in my hometown. After all of these positions, I have come full circle with my dreams for the future. I CURRENTLY hope to work as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner in the Emergency Department. But who knows, a lot can change in eight months.

Oh, and did I mention? I just launched a PODCAST! This crazy, unique, nursing journey of mine taught me one important lesson, DO NOT BE AFRAID TO TRY NEW THINGS! Sometimes you have to dive into those new opportunities and experiences to discover areas of the field that you do and DO NOT like. This is the beauty of the nursing profession, and it is nothing to be ashamed of. If we all had the same interests, every nurse in the world would be lined up to work with the tiniest of humans in the NICU. Thankfully, we all have a unique nursing journey that is just waiting to be created.

The idea behind The Nightingal Podcast is to inspire and motivate nurses to think outside of the box and pursue a career that wholeheartedly makes them feel fulfilled. Each step of my nursing journey had it's purpose and it's influence on my path. I wouldn't be where I am today if I hadn't taken those risks.

This is MY nursing journey. I am a Nightingal.

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