Day in Life: Nurse Assistant Makes a Difference


A patient light above a patient room door blinks on.

Nurse assistant Ashley Harrington, NA, glances up from the bed she is making across the hall, squirts hand sanitizer on her hands on the way out of the room and again as she walks into the room, and walks to the patient’s bedside finishing her hand sanitation while asking how she can help.

Ashley enjoys providing front-line care at Munson Medical Center with a smile. And today there are seven patients on the receiving end of her care.

“The most rewarding part of my job is caring for patients and letting them know that I want to make a difference,” she says. “I’ve always been drawn to helping people.”

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Allied Health Class Stirs Interest

Interest in front-line patient care began for Ashley in high school through the Allied Health Occupations Class at Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District. That led to job-shadowing on Munson Medical Center’s oncology care floor, which prompted her to apply for a nurse assistant role. She has been on B3, a hospital medical surgical floor, for 10 years now.

Ashley’s typical day begins with a shift huddle where the floor staff talk about safety, key care needs and other important topics for the day. Every patient on her floor has either been to surgery, or awaiting one. Throughout her shift she is collecting important health information from each patient in her charge including blood pressure, temperature, and respirations. She is also responsible for answering call lights, providing patient baths, assisting patients on walks and with toileting needs, helping nurses, and making patients feel cared for and comfortable.

“It can get very busy depending on the acuity of the patients and their needs, which can be great,” she said.

On this morning, she responds to another call light to help a patient out of bed, then she is back across the hall to finish making the empty bed she left earlier. There is a short conversation with a nurse about a patient need, and then it is time to record patient vital information on the computer. She also updates a white board in the hall that has care instructions for her patients.

'Nursing Assistants 'Make a Difference'

“Ashley is such a special person and a joy to work with,” says Patti Rigan, MSN, RN, CMSRN, CBN, manager of B3. “Nursing assistants make such a difference in the flow of the day. Nursing staff appreciate their help and the patients love them. Nursing assistants are an integral part of our health care team; we couldn’t do it without them!”

In another patient room, Ashley notes an IV pole issue and makes a phone call to get it fixed. Then it’s on to another patient to perform a blood sugar test, and then another to pull out a blanket for a patient who has been sitting in a chair. All the while she is squirting more hand sanitizer on her hands between patients -- making sure she provides the safest possible care.

“Tell me when you want to lie down, OK?”

Making patients feel special is something she tries to emphasize. “I treat them like they are my family.  I make the time even when I don’t really have the time,” she said. “A patient recently told me ‘You make me feel like you really care about me,’ and I do!”

Teamwork Vital for Patient Experience

Patti and Ashley agree that providing high quality front-line care requires everyone working together to create the best hospital experience for the patient.

“The teamwork on our unit is absolutely amazing!” Ashley says. “I enjoy working with everyone; we have gotten into a system where we know each other so well. I know what the nurses want so I can do it before they even ask.  It makes the day go even smoother.”

Ashley shares that several members of her family have experienced inpatient care at Munson Medical Center. She recommends anyone needing high quality surgical nursing care to trust her unit’s team.

“My dad was just here and had surgery and was on our unit,” she says. “He is healing well and said he liked everyone who helped him while he was here. We’re very proud of our team!”

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