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University of Illinois student credits Carle, culture of personal growth for career preparation

University of Illinois student credits Carle, culture of personal growth for career preparation
Attending class, hitting the books, socializing and finding time to sleep often consumes many of the 24 hours in a day for college students. One University of Illinois student has managed to do this while also receiving hands-on career training as an Emergency Department (ED) tech at Carle Foundation Hospital.

For 19-year-old Hunter Varnes of Canton, IL, his studies as a pre-nursing major would be time consuming enough, but the opportunity to obtain training “on the go” was something of value. Having already completed the requirements to be a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), Varnes found his way to Carle, noting its status as a Level 1 Trauma Center.

“I knew that Carle was a well-known name in east and central Illinois and that Carle Foundation Hospital had the ability to keep most of its patients rather than send them to another facility,” Varnes said. “The patients I would see and help each day would expose me to a wide variety of cases that I would possibly be presented with as a future nurse.”151790379_700563853960288_1705414185214503375_n.jpg

In between class and studying, Varnes spends shifts learning directly from experienced peers, including Carle nurses, physicians, respiratory therapists and more. Varnes’ role as an ED tech allows him to work in direct patient care, assisting with triage, assessing trauma and floating to multiple stations throughout the ED.

This hands-on experience, paired with a culture of growth and fostering a learning environment, sparks a passion for the industry and emergency nursing in him. He also enjoys the willingness of busy physicians to help share a learning moment or allowing him to assist with something new every day.

“I am truly lucky. Some students go into nursing school with little to no experience,” Varnes said. “My job at Carle is like going to school while at work. I am always learning and growing as a professional. My preceptor, Kami Davis, is always helping me gain the skills I need to be an excellent, compassionate nurse.”

For Carle, the benefit of experiences like this is a two-way street.

“Personal development and career growth are part of a culture that makes Carle Health ronk-rae-ann-(1).jpgsuch a valuable place to work,” Rae Ann Ronk, vice president, Human Resources said. “Our team members are our best resources. They invest so much of themselves into our patients, it’s only fitting that we invest in them and their career goals just the same.”

Elizabeth Angelo, senior vice president, chief nursing officer, Carle Health, stresses the important role that education plays in developing well-rounded clinical professionals.

“In clinical roles, it’s so important to keep learning and growing,” Angelo said. “At Carle, ELIZABETH-ANGELO-2017-A.jpgwe want our team members to continue to develop professionally, and to gain skills that serve our patients. In addition to paid training programs and tuition assistance, we offer hands-on learning opportunities, continuing education, seminars, and other ways to grow. It’s important to us that every team member has the support they need to meet their professional goals.”

In addition to learning technical skills and processes on the job, the COVID-19 pandemic adds an entirely new learning curve for students like Varnes. Now more than ever, there is a need for healthcare workers helping keep patients safe, healthy and out of the hospital.

From putting on personal protective equipment (PPE) each day to experiencing the frontlines of the pandemic, Varnes says now is the most crucial time to be learning in the healthcare industry. The pandemic has helped him learn the emotional skills needed to deliver patient-centric care as well.

“Diving head first in the pandemic has been an entirely new learning curve of its own. I’m experiencing the waves of every emotion right alongside our patients. I am right at their bedside as they process a new or unfamiliar diagnoses. It has only made me appreciate this experience and the work I will do as a nurse even more.”

When looking further down the road, Varnes has high ambitions for his career.

In addition to pursing emergency medicine even further as a nurse, Varnes has his eyes set on nursing administration, accreditation and quality.

“Carle really is the spark that ignited my passion for nursing. I knew it is what I wanted to do, but the growth I’ve experienced as an employee has turned an interest into a passion. I feel totally equipped with the tools needed to succeed,” Varnes said.

Visit to view career opportunities available at Carle Health locations across Illinois.

Categories: Culture of Quality

Tags: “career, careers, development”, education, nursing