Choosing a career was one of the toughest decisions I had to make. I wanted a career that I would truly enjoy for the rest of my life, and to me, nursing is that career. It is a profession dedicated to helping the sick. My dedication not only comes from within, but from my mother who supported and encouraged my career decision. Compassion, warmth and determination to help others have always been part my mother’s character. Nursing allows you to bring these qualities to life in order to help people and make an impact in their lives.
I have been a nurse for 38 years at Summa Health System. When I was 18 years old, I went to Idabelle Firestone School of Nursing at Summa Akron City Hospital to begin my education and work as a student nurse.
I then began my career as a cancer nurse working the night shift, which allowed me to give comfort the terminally ill and experience life and death through others. My next career path led me to women’s health, where I began on a gynecology floor, followed by maternity services. I then spent 17 years in the Special Care Nursery where I grew to love nurturing and caring for new moms and their babies.
All three of my daughters were born at Summa Health System, and I fortunately had wonderful deliveries with no problems. As a nurse, however, you come to experience many different situations. I found myself in one of these situations when my first granddaughter was born premature with three Ventricular septal defects (VSD) and one Atrial septal defect (ASD) in her heart.
Coping with having a premature baby can be difficult, especially when your baby has a heart defect. Your expectations immediately shift, and the birth, the first days, going home, and newborn parenting all become overshadowed by worry and grief. When your baby is premature, it is natural to feel complex emotions, and being a grandmother and a nurse, I was also feeling those emotions for my daughter and granddaughter. My granddaughter spent one week in the Special Care Nursery, and we were told she would need open heart surgery once she tripled her birth weight. After nine months and to our delight, we were informed that the defects had closed and she would not have to undergo surgery. My granddaughter is a very healthy five year old now, and looking back, I believe this experience led me to develop a deeper understanding of how important nurses are in the healing process.
Today, I am the case manager for Summa Women’s Health Services, where I act as a discharge planner, educator and researcher. Some of my most complex patients are mothers who are addicted to opiates. This addiction is a major concern because their infants are usually born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS), or problems of being exposed to addictive illegal or prescription drugs. It is very important that opiate-addicted women who get pregnant do the right thing and get prenatal care. I find it very gratifying that I am able to help these women and protect the health of their unborn child.
Nurses are needed in every field, and I am glad to be able to do my part. During Nursing Recognition Week from May 5 to 11, we recognize these extraordinary, compassionate, dedicated and hardworking people that help care for our patients and their families every day. If you’ve had excellent care from a Summa nurse, please comment below.
Karen Frantz, BSN, RNC
Case Manager, Women’s Health Services
Summa Health System