Kerrie Peck, RN, at Baptist Health Hospital

Ten years ago, I left a thirteen-year career in a very comfortable job at Paducah Bank.  I began to feel a tug at my heart to engage in work that truly made a difference in the lives of others.  I coined leaving my stable job as my “step off the cliff and see where I land” moment.  My family disagreed and coined it my “are you crazy” moment! When contemplating leaving the bank, I made a list of the items I felt I needed in order to satisfy this pull towards more meaningful work that would help others.

At the time, my aging grandmother was in a local nursing home, and I was able to spend a considerable amount of time with her since I was not employed. It was during these interactions with her and the nursing staff that I began to open my eyes and my heart. It was there that I realized I was meant to be a nurse.  

When I looked at the list I had made earlier, a career in nursing could meet each one.  Looking back, I have always been drawn to helping others and to making a difference in the lives of others.  My first career was in elementary education, and it only took me two short years to realize that was not the best fit for me.  With nursing, I get to combine my love of educating with my love of caring for others, both of which truly make a difference in the lives of others.

The patient experience that quickly comes to mind occurred on a typical, very busy Saturday.  I was caring for six patients, one of them fairly acutely ill.  A physician wanted to complete a bedside procedure that morning and I assisted.  Upon completion of the procedure, I quickly ran through the list of possible complications in my mind and continued on with my work.  After checking on the patient multiple times post-procedure, I began to notice subtle changes with him.  

I quickly notified the physician, who listened to my concerns and decided to come see the patient.  To make a long story short, the patient went for emergency surgery, as he had developed a complication (cardiac tamponade), albeit rare, from the bedside procedure.  The patient spent several days in the intensive care unit and returned to my floor several days later.  When a patient and family come to you and tell you thank you for saving their life or their dad’s life, there is no better feeling in the world.  

This particular patient comes to visit my floor and to this day, still refers to me as his angel.  I simply see this experience as doing my job of caring for and advocating for my patients to the best of my ability.  To be able to have this type of impact on patients, typically complete strangers, makes every moment of my journey worthwhile.    

Kerrie Peck, RN, is a long-time nurse on the cardiac floor of Baptist Health Hospital.