PROGRESS 2022: Nurse educator says career offers dream life

Courtesy Photo Clinical nurse educator Chanda Zbytowski appears at MyMichigan Medical Center Alpena recently.

ALPENA — Nursing offers the perfect life for a busy mom who loves where she lives, an Alpena native said.

Chanda Zbytowski, an Alpena health care worker with 21 years of nursing experience, recently shifted to a new job introducing other nurses to their careers caring for Alpena patients.

As a clinical nurse educator for MyMichigan Medical Center Alpena, Zbytowski introduces new hires to the hospital, creates their initial schedules, and builds a solid foundation that will, she hopes, help them decide to stick around at the Alpena hospital for a long time.

She also instructs people in a recently created Patient Care Technician Training Program that teaches those with little to no health care experience to assist nurses with basic patient care.

With its flexible schedules, job mobility, and real-time emotional boost from providing help to those who need it, nursing lets her and many others live their dream life, Zbytowski said.

Now, in her training role, she gets to see others experience the emotional connection to patients she found so rewarding, Zbytowski said, describing a recent patient interaction that moved a trainee to happy tears.

“That’s why I do my job,” Zbytowski said. “That right there.”

As Alpena, like other communities, navigates a nationwide nurse shortage, Zbytowski gets to play a key role in strengthening the region’s medical workforce by making sure new hires start off on the right foot.

For newcomers to the hospital, the first day of work means dedicated assimilation time as Zbytowski provides introductions to hospital staff, loads tools onto the new worker’s cell phones, and demonstrates how to find important information.

With such help, “You have a good, solid foundation to keep learning and keep building your career,” Zbytowski said. “The more knowledge, the better.”

The addition of the Patient Care Technician Training Program means she gets to introduce others to the nursing career she loves via a short-term, hands-on program that lets interested people get their feet wet without a full commitment to a health care career.

The three people currently under her wing in the six-week program have given her joy as she watches them interact with patients and discover the power of their simple presence to brighten someone’s day.

The work of a nurse can be exhausting and mentally challenging, certainly, Zbytowski said.

“But, when we have those moments,” she said, “when we can make a difference for someone when they are at their worst, that’s why we are in the medical profession.”

In her time at MyMichigan, the Alpena Community College alum has worked in medical surgery, telemetry, emergency, and cardiac rehabilitation and in the Cancer Center. Nursing lets workers go almost anywhere — and follow almost any schedule, she said.

As a mom, she’s been able to tailor her schedule to match her kids’ lives as they grew, something she could never do in a 9-to-5 job, Zbytowski said.

A hospital “beads for deeds” program rewards nurses praised in patient satisfaction surveys with beads they can turn in for rewards. Most nurses brush off such praises, saying that’s just what they do, Zbytowski said.

The hospital may occasionally run on a short staff, but nurses do their best to keep patients from knowing that, because they want each one to feel like they have their caretaker’s full attention, she said.

“And I love it,” Zbytowski said. “That’s how I’d want to be taken care of.”


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