coffee date #23 with kim vanesko
ED Nurse Practitioner, upcoming children’s book author, Georgetown alumni, future founder of a nonprofit org!
me: strawberry açaí refresher | kim: flat white
location: starbucks, new jersey
Kim was one of the first people I truly felt comfortable with and at ease around whenever I was at my job. She’s hilarious, kind, and an immense bundle of joy to be around.
She’ll greet you with a “What’s up girl?!,” Yes girl!,”“Girl, you’re amazing!” A whole lotta amazing energy and vibes is all you really need to make a stressful day a little less stressful 🙂
The thing that I admire about Kim is how she lives an incredibly passionate and creative life. She works in an insanely busy Emergency Department and still finds the time to work with CEOs for the development of her nonprofit and send manuscripts to publishers for her children’s book. I love how she doesn’t let the stress of work hold her back from pursuing things outside of her professional life. It’s empowering to see her conquer her creative passions and not sacrifice one for the other.
- Burnout is a very real thing in medicine.
I never knew how big of a problem burnout was until I worked in the ED. When we think of burnout, we often only think of the physicians. But, in reality, burnout affects every single person working in the healthcare field – from the LPNs to techs to NPs to physicians.
The three key components of burnout are:
- emotional exhaustion, leading to easily becoming irritable or downhearted
- replacement of usual empathy with cynicism, negativity, and feeling emotionally numb, which is called depersonalization
- a low sense of professional effectiveness
According to Kim, the only way to prevent (or at least attempt to prevent) burnout is to learn to detach from patients once they are no longer under your care.
“We learn to shut off once our shift is over.” – Kim Vanesko, 2021
Kim explained that this only comes after years of experience. It’s incredibly difficult, at first, to separate the professional life from the personal one. However, it’ll only become easier as the years progress.
Kim also mentioned that she finishes all her patient documentation before her shift is over. This provides a sense of closure. Once she signs off on a patient chart, she knows that she did everything she possibly could to care for this person. And that is what allows her to be able to shut off as she finishes her shift and heads home.
- The difference between being an NP and a physician…
Did you know that only 1% of an ED’s healthcare team is composed of Nurse Practitioners? Because I sure as hell did not until Kim said it during the date. It was shocking.
Kim said that NPs and physicians are simply taught differently. NPs are taught to handle primary patient care and aren’t put through as much mental rigor as physicians.
However, Kim said this about NPs that I thought was so spot on and beautiful:
“NPs have the mind of a physician and the heart of a nurse.” – Kim Vanesko, 2021
- Don’t be afraid to seek help EARLY!
During one of the shifts I was working with Kim, she mentioned that she has ADHD and takes medications for it. When I asked her how she realized that she needed help, she replied by saying that she didn’t take this step until she was in Georgetown getting her doctorate. She suffered with ADHD for YEARS before she was finally able to take the step to receive help.
Kim talked about how she had to train herself to be extremely disciplined when she was studying. She’d have to do assignments in 15 minute intervals to ensure that she was staying on track with her work. An assignment that should take minimal time would take Kim nearly two hours to finish.
However, once she made the decision to take medications for ADHD, she has now been able to reach that baseline level where she no longer suffers to that great of an extent as she used to.
Morale of the story: taking medications for a mental health condition is normal, needed, and can be extremely helpful.
- Don’t settle for anything less than what you deserve.
The only person who knows your self-worth is you. So the only person who will stand up for yourself in a situation that puts your self-worth and self-efficacy on the line is….you. And that’s exactly what Kim did.
During her undergraduate years, Kim was supposedly told that she could only become an LPN and will not be able to take the NP route. She did not let what others thought of her stop her from going after a career that she knew she could pursue. Thus, Kim notified her college’s administration board and continued to fight. When she realized that the college could not see her potential, Kim packed up and moved to Pittsburgh to finish the rest of her college years. Flash forward years later and now Kim is a kickass NP who clearly proved everyone in her former college wrong.
Although it’s easier said than done, there may come moments in our lives where people will jump to make decisions for us. But it is our job to ensure that we get what we deserve and we are not afraid to do so (especially the women, who are more often than not, still silenced and told to just obey the “rules”).
“I think it’s my job to instill them with love, values, and common sense.” – Kim Vanesko, 2021
Kim is one of those cool Moms who is her children’s best friend. This is most definitely the key to any sort of parent-child relationship: developing a friendship.
“You just have to be their safety net.” – Kim Vanesko, 2021
- Who are you without your profession?
We tend to label ourselves based on our professions. Thus, we identify with our professions. As a result, we spend all our lives putting in so much effort trying to enter that profession and once we do, we continue to work our butts off to keep up with the profession.
“You cannot identify yourself with your job.” – Kim Vanesko, 2021
There is more to life than just our jobs – and I think many of us forget that. A job will ensure that we will be financially stable and can also provide some sort of happiness (at least it should), but it should not be the only thing we identify ourselves with.
We are so much more than our careers. Our life cannot be determined solely by the profession or career path we choose. That’s an insane amount of pressure to place on a single aspect of our life when our life is actually composed of numerous aspects.