With more jobs in health care becoming available in the Chicago area, according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security, you might be considering a career as a nurse. To get an inside look at how education helps nurses, we spoke with Meryl Fury, clinic coordinator for North Chicago Health Center, which is part of the Lake County Health Dept. and Community Health Center. Her duties include managing the schedule for doctors, nurses and other clinic employees; hiring, firing and disciplining staff; ensuring medical supplies are delivered on time; and translating information for patients. Fury is a registered nurse and holds a bachelor’s of science in nursing and an masters of science in nursing with a concentration in management.

Meryl Fury, clinic coordinator, North Chicago Health Center (photo courtesy of Meryl Fury)

Meryl Fury, clinic coordinator, North Chicago Health Center (photo courtesy of Meryl Fury)

Is education or experience more important for your role in health?

“Some experience in managing is required. I have 30 to 35 people on staff, and I need to facilitate job duties. Education is also important, as I need to know how to manage people differently. I am passionate about lifelong learning and I take continuing education units — CEUs — as a registered nurse. I also stay informed with what’s going on in the community by meeting with the police, emergency personnel and local politicians. By knowing what’s going on in the area, I can help minimize the impact of an illness that is sweeping through the community. I also take courses in personnel management.”

What challenges are associated with continuing education in nursing?

“There are lots of continuing education units out there that may be online or through a pharmaceutical company. However, nurses do not receive compensation for completing CEUs. In addition, medications and treatments can always change, and they change fast.”

How has education prepared you for your career?

“It is extremely important to research the best practices and be willing to change what’s been done before. Education helps me perform sustained research, it helps me with budget management and it has given me different methods for communicating with others. Knowing how to do SWOT and gap analyses is really valuable so we can adapt as we move forward. Diseases change and people’s needs change, too, which we need to be aware of to help the community.”

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.