A thank you to our nation’s nurses
Every day at Fresenius Kabi we learn from the nursing experience of many of our colleagues, like those featured in the video below. They help us better understand, support, and celebrate nurses. They remind us that on a good day, nursing is a profoundly rewarding profession, but that even on a good day, it challenges the body, mind, and spirit.
And so, during Nurses Week 2022—and every other week of the year—we thank the millions of nurses across the country for their dedication, even in the most difficult times. We stand shoulder to shoulder with them, pledging to use our strength, experience, and passion to help nurses in caring for life.
We’re proud to be able to raise awareness of the nursing profession through our sponsorship of The American Nurse Project and provide support through helping fund the American Nurses Foundation Coronavirus Response Fund for Nurses.
Nurses reflect on the rewards and challenges of their profession
Debbie Ferrell, MSN, RN, HP(ASCP)
Senior Manager, Clinical Services, Therapeutics
A common thread of caring.
Debbie began her career in Indianapolis, on a medical/surgical floor in a large hospital that gave her “exposure to all kinds of patients, all kinds of diseases, (and) all kinds of treatments.” She cared for AIDS patients at the height of the HIV crisis and vividly remembers working on a panel of the AIDS quilt with her colleagues. Together they visited Washington D.C. to see it displayed on the lawn. It was a moment when she saw that the difficult experiences she and her friends had been through were a “common thread with thousands of nurses” across the country.
After 15 years, Debbie moved to a small suburban hospital where she was introduced to apheresis. She fell in love with this branch of medicine and shifted her focus, providing apheresis treatments at hospitals all over Chicago for almost a decade. Today Debbie works at Fresenius Kabi as an educator, training other nurses on apheresis equipment. She feels that like nursing, “teaching is very rewarding—and to know that experienced nurses can form the way the next generation practices is an opportunity that we shouldn't pass up.”
She has a personal message for nurses working in today’s environment, who she describes as “the most resilient, flexible, dependable, loyal people on the face of this earth: Thank you for getting up every day knowing what you’re going to face. Thank you and I appreciate you. And I’m thrilled that I was able to train (some of) you… You are a lifeline. You have healing hands.”
Loretta K Dorn, MSN, RN, CRNI
Director of Clinical Liaisons
Providing that human touch.
“I've had difficult days where… my heart hurt because somebody didn't make it and I did everything that I could, but I have loved being a nurse since day one.” Loretta was just 13 when she began volunteering as a candy striper. By 16 she had earned her CNA (certified nursing assistant) license, working in a long-term care facility while attending high school. She became a full-fledged associate degree nurse on the floor by the time she was 20.
After a few years on a medical/surgical floor, Loretta moved into critical care. Twelve years later she focused on home care nursing, which was often, “as much social work as it is doing the infusions because these patients needed so much more than just their medications.” After earning a CRNI (Certified Registered Nurse Infusion), she began to work with the Infusion Nurses Society, giving speeches and helping to set the standards for nursing. In her work at Fresenius Kabi today, she continues to educate other nurses, teaching them “best practice …so that … they can go and provide the best of care to their patients.”
When COVID-19 struck, Loretta returned to working directly with patients on weekends, on her own time, and it only strengthened her admiration for her fellow nurses. “It’s difficult when you’re all gowned up and geared up to provide that human touch … which is what nurses want to do—is provide that human touch… so that the patient feels like they are cared for.”
Lauren Jefferies-Zeitler, RN, HP(ASCP)
Clinical Specialist, Therapeutics
Help, cure, advocate, heal.
Lauren began her health care career in blood centers and then moved on to working as an OR tech doing blood salvage and stem cell collections. Seeing the quality of her work and her love of helping others, her hospital colleagues encouraged her to go back to school to become a nurse. Lauren ultimately focused on apheresis nursing and has spent the last seven years at Fresenius Kabi traveling—and Zooming—widely, “going out to train nurses and be with them and help them through their procedures.”
Lauren has “a lot of compassion for those nurses who are on the floor” today, because it’s become such an all-encompassing role. “We are emotional support, sometimes we're physical support, we're psychological support… we have to be a host of things for our patients… and not only for our patients, also for their family as well… It's a whole heck of a lot harder than you think it is… it’s stressful and impacts your life well beyond the hours of the day that you're there.”
Having experienced loss in her time as a hospital nurse, and knowing how hard it was to “remember that even though I did my best … sometimes they don't all make it,” she hopes that nurses are getting the help they might need personally, not just recognition for their work. Because, as Lauren says, “when most nurses walk into the hospital they’re not walking in… because they want that kind of appreciation—it’s because they want to help, they want to cure, they want to advocate, they want to heal.”
Renee Wardell, RN, BSN, MBA
Clinical Education Consultant, Blood Center
A job to do. A mission to fulfill.
After beginning her career in an educational role in the health care industry, Renee decided to go back to school become a nurse. She worked in hospital settings after she graduated, mostly in the post-anesthesia care unit. Renee has returned to teaching at Fresenius Kabi, where she now helps train clients so they “have the education and the skill set to collect blood components… safely and efficiently.”
In her days on the floor, Renee always tried “to make positive impacts on people’s lives…whether the outcome is good or not there’s still an impact on their lives and we look—regardless of the outcome—to make that a positive… for the families, for the patients, and for our health care teams.” She says that it takes a very broad skill set to do that successfully—while most people think of nurses as a “foundation of strength, of support”, it’s not just about “being emotionally invested in helping patients, there's also a very critical piece to nursing where you have to analyze. You have to notice those little subtle things that could really lead a patient down a path you do or don't want to go.”
Renee believes that working through the COVID-19 pandemic has been “a life altering experience” for nurses, who continue to “willingly walk through the doors of that hospital every day knowing that they may potentially putting their own lives at risk, a family member’s life at risk, but go in, knowing that they have a job to do, a mission to fulfill.”
Deanna Duvall, RN, BSN, HP (ASCP)
Senior Clinical Specialist, Therapeutics
Getting each other through the tough times.
Even before becoming a nurse Deanna was drawn to patient care, first as a candy striper and then as a nurse’s aide. After earning her four-year nursing degree, she worked in hospitals and then at the American Red Cross where she started doing donor and therapeutic apheresis. While she has worked in a range of settings since then—from dialysis units to device education—Deanna has remained in the field of apheresis.
Thinking back to her years of working directly with patients, she recounts that any day in nursing could range from getting a patient through a therapy that saves their life to sitting with a patient in their final moments so that they weren’t alone. And she remembers the importance of the support health care workers give each other. On her worst day of nursing, after Deanna lost a patient, “within ten minutes I had several of my team members and some other physicians come up and help… get me through that time.” In her experience, “a good team always has each other’s backs.”
Deanna has spent the last 12 years at Fresenius Kabi as a clinical specialist teaching and supporting users of apheresis devices. She has the “utmost admiration for my customers that have continued to work through (COVID-19)…. I admire and respect and applaud those nurses.”
Akim A. Lekuti, MHA, MSN
Clinical Manager, Clinical Affairs, Medical Devices
Once a nurse, always a nurse.
Akim has been dedicated to healing since childhood, when he helped care for s sister with sickle cell disease. He became a military medic and was deployed in Germany, working with soldiers injured in Iraq. In his experiences across military and civilian nursing, “the one thing that they all have in common is the passion that nurses put into the care.”
For Akim, the most rewarding part of nursing was being the connection between the doctors, the patients, and the patients’ families. He has sometimes had to give bad news, but even then, at “the lowest point and the saddest point in their lives…nurses have the opportunity to be the support system they need.”
Over the past three years, Akim has worked at Fresenius Kabi, helping to support nurses in the field. But, as he says, “I still think of myself as a nurse—once a nurse, you’re always a nurse—no matter where you are, you always have that caring attitude… it’s built in you.” He wants people outside of nursing to understand the sacrifices nurses make. “The biggest hurt is the kid asking mom or dad, ‘When are you coming home?’ and they don't have an answer for that because they have to do what they signed up to do, which is to provide care. So they have to put their family on hold, to take care of other people’s families.”
Tracy VonBriesen, RN, MS
Director, Human Factors, Combination Products, Medical Affairs
A heart big enough for both the happy and sad.
Tracy didn’t go to college to become a nurse, but after taking an EMT class she fell in love with patient care and went on to earn her bachelor’s degree in nursing—as she says, “the best decision I ever made.” Her career began on an adult liver transplant floor at a large Chicago teaching hospital, working with pre- and post-op patients. She then became a transplant coordinator, and then spent several years in Level 3 neonatal intensive care, before ultimately coming to work at Fresenius Kabi.
In every nursing position she had, direct care was only part of the job; Tracy was also devoted to educating and supporting patients and their families. Nurses have to explain complex situations to people with no medical backgrounds—“not only to the patient that is in the bed, but for the family members too—because you’re much more successful if everybody on board understands the journey.”
To Tracy, to be a great nurse, “it takes the critical thinking, and good time management skills, but above all to really, really have a big heart… and be able to take the sad stuff and the happy stuff, at the same time… that's the biggest part, being able to have that empathy.” She’s been amazed that despite the extraordinary challenges of this moment, nurses are still finding ways to connect with patients: “you saw how they were creative on putting their pictures outside on their gowns so you can see who they were …so you just see what it takes as clinicians, as nurses, to continue to provide that empathy.”
Lauri Lillie, RN, BSN, MSN
Senior Manager, Clinical Nurse Liaison, IV Therapy
Mentoring a caregiving spirit—and skills.
“I've always liked to be that caregiver kind of person in my community.” So it was no surprise that Lauri got a job as a certified nursing assistant after graduating High School, obtaining her RN and devoted her career to nursing. She had amazing teachers who supported her, and she has always wanted “to take that mentorship that I received and pass it along… to know what I was doing was making a difference in other nurses' lives.” That’s a key part of her work at Fresenius Kabi today.
Lauri loves the range of possibilities that a nursing career brings: “you could become a teacher in nursing, you can become an emergency room nurse, you can become a flight nurse, you can become an OR nurse, you can do nursing informatics or IT—there’s just so many aspects of nursing that you can go into—and every one of them is as rewarding.”
Her favorite experience was working in the ER, for about nine years. “You could take care of patients from newborns that were being delivered out in the emergency ambulance driveway to elderly people that you held their hands as you told them that they were going.” The last few years has reminded Lauri of her time there during the AIDS pandemic—“I would have to say one of my worst days as a nurse I lost three patients in one night and I still remember that day like it was yesterday.” She feels for the nurses who face this on top of all the other challenges COVID-19 has brought and is extraordinarily thankful for their work.