Every May is National Nurses Month in honor of legendary British nurse Florence Nightingale (1820–1910), whose birthday was May 12.
Like the famous “Lady with the Lamp,” a nickname she received during the Crimean War as a result of her night rounds checking on wounded soldiers, millions of nurses have followed her steps and dedicated their lives to caring for the sick and hurting.
In celebration of National Nurses Month this year and Nightingale’s exemplary work, AdventHealth takes a look at two new graduate nurses who are building on the rich legacy that Nightingale left behind as well as the many nurses who came before them at UChicago Medicine AdventHealth.
Rebeka (Beki) Tanurdzic is a nurse who graduated from Walla Walla University in 2021 and now works in the Progressive Care Unit (PCU) at UChicago Medicine AdventHealth La Grange. She has a long history with AdventHealth; her mother was a chaplain and director of pastoral care after the family emigrated from Serbia in 2007. Tanurdzic started with AdventHealth as a certified nursing assistant and volunteer at AdventHealth Hinsdale. “I feel like AdventHealth has been a part of my family,” she said.
As a child, Tanurdzic knew she wanted to do something in the medical field, but she didn’t decide on nursing until the summer before her senior year of high school. “I prayed about it all that summer,” she said. And she is glad she received an answer to her prayers.
She finds the PCU unit very rewarding. Her best days are when she makes a connection with patients who give her insight into how to help them.
“You are the advocate for your patients,” she said, explaining that can mean advocating with other staff, with family, or with the patients themselves. “Our patients are very sick and very vulnerable, and you have to be compassionate and be someone they can trust.”
Someday she would like to direct a traveling clinic to bring medical care to people in underserved areas of Serbia, Bosnia, and Croatia. “Some areas there don’t have enough care, and I would like to help,” she said. “Nursing is a calling for me.”
Meanwhile, Brooke Barnes joined the Pediatric Intermediate Care Unit at UChicago Medicine AdventHealth Hinsdale after she graduated from Western Illinois University in 2022. Her mother is a nurse at Hinsdale, and she always encouraged Barnes to consider nursing.
“Because she was telling me what to be, I thought I didn’t want to be a nurse,” Barnes said. “But going to college, being on my own for the first time, I had a chance to reflect and take stock. Then I thought, ‘Maybe she has a point.’”
As was the case with Tanurdzic, the COVID-19 pandemic dominated Barnes’ nursing education. Her experience only furthered her belief that nursing is a selfless profession. She feels that working through the pandemic made her a better nurse and prepared her for the reality of nursing.
She was especially thrilled to get a job in the Pediatric unit. “I really love the people I work with, and I also really love meeting the kids and the parents,” she said. “I like talking with them and finding unique solutions to things like when a child doesn’t want to take medicine or have an IV line put in. You have to be creative.”
Barnes loves working in her current unit and hopes to work there for years to come.
“I want to keep aspiring to be the best nurse I can be,” she said.