With nursing as a top job in demand in the Chicago metro area right now, you might want to know about the role that education plays in a nurse’s career. Barb Pudelek, the medical intensive care unit manager at Loyola University Health System in Maywood, shares her inside view of the importance of education in her career.

In a typical day, Pudelek must provide mentoring and development for staff, and also ensure there is a good mix of both new and veteran staff scheduled. Her other responsibilities include keeping staff up to date on current rules and regulations. Ultimately, she also has around-the-clock accountability for staff and patients. Pudelek is a registered nurse and has a bachelor’s degree in nursing, a master’s degree in nursing and a postgraduate degree as a nurse practitioner. She is currently working on a doctorate in nursing.

Barb Pudelek, medical intensive care unit manager, Loyola University Health System (credit: Megan Horst-Hatch)

Barb Pudelek, medical intensive care unit manager, Loyola University Health System (photo courtesy of Barb Pudelek)

What kind of education was needed for you to advance to medical intensive care manager?

“My education helped provide a foundation by giving me exposure to theories behind staff management and budgeting. It has really opened my eyes to a lot of things within nursing. It also provided me with a network for working with others. To be a nurse manager, I needed to have at least a master’s degree in nursing. I am also currently working on a PhD in nursing, which gives me a better appreciation for the research process. I get to look at it from a different set of eyes, too.

“I need to complete continuing education units for my requirements as a nurse, and I also attend clinical and managerial classes. I take classes that are refreshers on diseases and classes on new equipment. I’m constantly completing continuing education courses on new ways of treating patients and on how to be an effective manager.”

How has your education prepared you for real life experiences on the job?

“I think you need a blend of both education and experience. You need to have experience working with patients, and you also need to have clinical experience. I think it has also helped that I’ve worked in other departments. The time limitation is definitely the hardest challenge. It can be difficult to find the time to continue education with everything else I need to do. Finding appropriate classes to take can sometimes also be a challenge.”

Megan Horst-Hatch is a mother, runner, baker, gardener, knitter, and other words that end in “-er.” She loves nothing more than a great cupcake, and writes at I’m a Trader Joe’s Fan. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.

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