A passion for pediatrics

Brittany Patel, RN, CAPA

Brittany Patel, RN, CAPA, considers herself a lifelong learner. It’s what drew her to UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital as a pediatric nurse, and what keeps her there.

“The university has a lot to offer,” says Patel, interim assistant nurse manager on the pediatric surgery prep and recovery unit. “It’s a huge academic medical center. You're always learning new skills here, and here’s always an opportunity to grow into something else. I don’t feel like I ever have a day that’s exactly like another.”

The road to UI Health Care

Patel arrived at UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital for her first day as a staff nurse in December 2017 feeling a bit like she had won the lottery.

“UI Health Care was the organization you always heard of growing up,” she says. “I always knew that pediatrics was where I wanted to end up, and we have a really great pediatrics program."

In her role as a staff nurse, Patel says working with pediatric patients and their families was always something special.

“We were sometimes seeing them on very tough, scary days,” she says. “To be able to take these pediatric patients, help them through a really tough day, and then hold their hand as you walked them to their car so gratifying.”

Opportunity to rise

Due in part to her participation in the UI Hospital & Clinics Nurse Residency Program, Patel quickly realized she could go as far as her imagination and work ethic could take her.

“The Nurse Residency Program was very appealing,” she says. “It’s not something that a lot of other hospitals are doing. During that transition after nursing school, the program enables you to connect with nurses on other units who are also new graduates.”

Once at UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital, Patel transitioned from a staff nurse to a charge nurse and then, in March 2021, assumed the role of interim assistant nurse manager. She attributes her rapid ascent to a collaborative environment that nurtures professional growth.

“We have a very open-door policy, both with each other and leadership,” Patel says. “If you have a question or concern about something, you’re able to get that answered. After your orientation period, you touch base with leadership multiple times a year to work on your goals and what they can do to help you pursue them.”

A cohesive environment

Patel says UI Health Care has the type of atmosphere where colleagues evolve into friends and confidants.

“Pre-pandemic, when it was a lot easier to get together in large groups, our unit would routinely have outings,” she says. “We’d meet up for dinner, or a place where you can create crafty things. We would always do those types of team-building activities outside of work. That’s what makes our unit special.”

Today, the possibilities still seem boundless for Patel. Maybe even more so than when she started.

“When I graduated, I just had my associate degree in nursing,” she says. “I’m currently working for my master’s. In the short time I’ve been here, I’ve also sought out a certification that’s applicable to the unit I work on. The university does a wonderful job of showing you what’s out there in terms of nursing and then helping you get there.”