Registered Nurse: Patricia Hinrichs

Registered Nurse
Since 1978

Patricia Hinrichs
Registered Nurse
Years in School:
Grinnell Regional Medical Center
Years in Profession:

1. Why did you choose to become a registered nurse?

I have always enjoyed helping people and thought, “What better way to do that?” Assisting people to improve their health, reduce pain or heal from surgery is very rewarding. After being in the profession for several years, I have learned that being a nurse gives me a wide range of job selections. I have worked in a hospital providing care to surgical and medical patients and in the emergency room. From the hospital, I went to home health nursing, and now to public health nursing.

2. What is your typical work day like?

Every day brings new challenges and job responsibilities. I participate in many types of public health clinics such as immunizations, foot care and blood pressure. When reports of communicable diseases come in, I start the investigation to find the cause and prevent further spread of the disease. Weekly, we have a clinic for those who do not have insurance. I attend health fairs to teach the public how to keep healthy or prepare for emergencies. Many days I am writing grants or reports for the grants that are providing public health services. I supply reports and recommendations to the Board of Health.

3. What is the most rewarding part of your job? The most challenging?

The most rewarding part of the job is teaching parents, children and the general public how to stay healthy. The most challenging part is finding the funding for all of the projects and programs that we conduct through public health.

4. What is the biggest myth or misconception about your career or field?

That being a nurse means working in a hospital. There are so many ways to use your nursing degree.

5. What steps did you take in high school and college to help prepare you for your career?

Taking all the math and science classes offered in high school helps the student going into college. When you reach college, taking a variety of courses along with the required courses. Take every opportunity to observe others in your profession as you learn.

6. What did you find difficult during your career preparation? How did you overcome these obstacles?

Psychiatric nursing was the most difficult rotation for me. I could not see the patients improving. We did a lot of therapeutic conversations and that helped me to overcome that feeling.

7. What do you see as the strengths and skills needed to succeed in your career?

A good ability to listen to your patient. They usually know their body better than anyone else. Assessment skills need to be practiced over and over to become proficient.

8. What advice would you offer to students interested in pursuing a career as a registered nurse?

Getting a four-year degree such as a BSN will open the door to many career possibilities. Take the time for the extra years of preparation.

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