Throughout National Nurses Week 2019, we’re recognizing WellSky’s more than 100 nurses who make the impactful work we do possible. Their dedication and expertise are invaluable as we strive to achieve our mission to elevate care across our communities.
Clinicians at WellSky work tirelessly to advocate on behalf of patient and clinician needs promoting a healthier health care system for all. We’re honored that these nurses contribute their time, talent, and innovation at WellSky.
Today, we’re highlighting Angie Yonkin, RN, clinical informatics specialist for HCS, WellSky’s long-term acute care division, in this powerful Q&A:
Tell us more about your background in nursing.
Nursing is my second career, and I’m a nurse of 21 years. Prior to joining HCS, my last nursing position was in the post-acute care setting, at a rehabilitation hospital caring for traumatic brain injury patients and stroke patients. Additionally, I also worked as an agency nurse, which provided me opportunities to work in many different types of facilities, for both acute and post-acute care. I started my nursing career in the acute-care setting on a post-operation orthopedic unit. I’ve been fortunate enough to practice as a nurse in different states, and I’m currently licensed in Kansas. I’ve spent most of my nursing career working in the hospital setting. In addition to working in the orthopedic unit, I’ve also worked as a staff nurse on medical/surgical/cardiac units and in diabetes education. I also held temporary nursing assignments in the hospital education department as an orientation instructor and as a clinical informatics liaison for a Cerner conversion during their software training, go-live, and post go-live transitions. I previously had two fun nursing side jobs working for the Occupational Medicine Department as a health and wellness coach, and I participated with a team of nurses for annual community flu shots and wellness checks.
What motivated you to become a nurse?
From the age of 10, I had to learn about diabetes, and how to manage it. That’s when my father was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and he was insulin dependent. That experience is what influenced and motivated me most to become a nurse. I wanted my father to be around for a long time, and with my innate desire to help others, I wanted to help him improve his health and manage his diabetes well. I was the family member that took the initiative and educated myself on diabetic diet management and meal preparation. I drew up his insulin injections and administered them when he needed a rotation break. That’s why diabetes and the management of diabetes most interested me, and how as a nurse I could help others as I had helped my father through the years.
Can you share a particular moment or story from your nursing career when you knew you’d chosen the right profession?
That particular moment came as a graduate nurse just off orientation on the orthopedic unit. I had a post-op ankle fracture/fixation patient, and she was a young mom. She exhibited signs/symptoms of a PE (pulmonary embolism), and she had that classic feeling of “impending doom” as well as all the signs/symptoms I’d recently learned in nursing school. Nurses know that PEs can be fatal. I made an immediate call to the surgeon to report the patient’s condition, and I was met with resistance from the surgeon in getting my patient transferred. My instincts and advocacy for the patient kicked in, and I was persistent that the patient needed to be transferred to ICU for further evaluation. Later, that surgeon gave the order to transfer, and my patient was quickly taken to ICU. Test results revealed a diagnosis of PE with clots in all lung fields. I followed up on her progress each day as she continued to improve in ICU. Two days after the patient’s crisis, while I was on the ortho unit working, a young dad with small children in tow found me. With tears in his eyes, he hugged me and thanked me for helping save his wife and his children’s mom. It was at that moment I knew I had chosen the right profession.
Why do you think nursing is such an important profession?
Nurses are the frontline of patient care. That’s why nurses are the strongest advocate within the health care team for a patient or resident. We assess, treat, and educate them, all while also providing compassionate and emotional support to that patient, their family, and our fellow caregivers. Nurses must collaborate with providers and all ancillaries in the interdisciplinary process of delivering quality patient/resident care. With an increasing prevalence of chronic diseases, the demand for the nursing profession continues to increase. A career in nursing offers almost endless specialty areas across health care, all with the end goal of caring for people in need and promoting health.
How does your clinical background contribute to WellSky’s vision of realizing care’s potential?
I’ve served on the frontlines of patient care for many years, and my nursing experiences of providing patient care across a variety of patient care services — using both paper and electronic systems — has given me vital knowledge and insight on the importance of delivering and supporting care providers with software systems that will help them improve care delivery across the continuum of care.
What made you decide to work at WellSky?
It was not an easy decision to leave bedside patient care. But with my various work experiences outside of health care as well as within health care, and the added experience of being an end user of health care IT software and performing in an electronic medical record (EMR) conversion support role, I was looking to transition my nursing career toward a different pathway, one that included being a part of a health care information technology company where I could take my end user experience and combine that with improving an EMR that would assist users in delivering more efficient care.
What’s one thing you want others to know about you?
I still practice patient care nursing through volunteer work.