Hospital in Columbus, Georgia. She graduated from college in 2020 and began her career as a Registered Nurse.
“It will be a year in November,” said Cook. “[My favorite thing about my job] would be the babies and the families. I really think it’s amazing to watch them grow up and their parents be so thankful that I was a part of that.
“It’s also super sad when a baby leaves. There was this one kid, I saw her when she was first born,” continued Cook. “She was 25 weeks old. I took care of her for so many days. She was intubated [at first] and then she was able to take her own oxygen. She started taking a bottle. I was taking care of her the day she went home, and her mom wanted to tell me goodbye. She is now getting ready to start preschool.”
Cook has enjoyed being a NICU nurse and adores her career path. Since she started in the middle of the pandemic, she doesn’t know what life was like at Piedmont before COVID-19. Her department has had many nurses leave their practice in recent times, creating a shortage of nurses.
“It’s crazy,” said Cook. “It’s really affecting the NICU. Within the past few months, we have had 10 nurses leave because of the stress. That has largely affected our patient-to-nurse ratio.
“[The shortage] has made the job more physically demanding,” continued Cook. “Every three hours we do ‘touch times’ where we check on the babies’ vital signs, change diapers, and assess them. The patient-to-nurse ratio in a NICU setting is three to one nurse. Right now, it is four to one. We are required to pick up two overtime or extra days per two weeks.”
Cook was inspired to be a pediatric nurse when she was hospitalized herself at Children’s Hospital. She was in the hospital for a long time because she had a brain tumor. She was able to survive while her nurses helped and inspired her. Cook aims to work at Children’s one day but for now, she plans to stay close to home with her family and her significant other.
“First of all, make sure you are in this for compassion and not just for the money. Make sure you are in this for the right reasons, and you truly love this because if you don’t you are going to hate your life,” said Cook. “It really is physically demanding. Make sure you go into the specialty you love. I went right into my specialty as a new graduate and I’m doing fine. Go into Pediatrics.”