May 6 is National Nurses Day, the first day of National Nurses Week, which ends on May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale. Nightingale became known as the founder of professional nursing for her pioneering work during the Crimean War. National Nurses Week was first observed in October 1954, the 100th anniversary of Nightingale’s mission to Crimea. She became known as “The Lady with the Lamp” due to her habit of making nightly rounds by lantern light.
Born and raised in Lapeer, Lipka obtained her nursing degree at Mott Community College. She became interested in the medical field because her grandpa, Dr. Harold Taggert, had a private practice in the Burton area and was the sports doctor for Bentley High School. “He inspired me,” Lipka says. “My mom always said that ever since I was able to talk, I wanted to be a nurse.”
Lipka began working at Hurley Medical Center in 2003, caring for patients on 9 East. She is now very busy working 12-hour days in the Neuro-Trauma ICU. Patients in this unit have suffered strokes or seizures, a head injury or brain trauma, motor vehicle accident, gunshot or stabbing. “I came to this unit because I wanted more critical care experience,” Lipka explains.
Her day begins at 7am, and as a nurse manager, she is charged with assigning tasks and shifts, but also provides patient care when needed. Lipka visits every patient in the 18-bed unit and introduces herself, making sure their call lights are working and that they are comfortable. Critical care involves hourly monitoring, giving medication, monitoring IV drips and vital signs. There is specialized monitoring of the very critically ill, hemodynamic monitoring, and for a head injury, intracranial monitoring. A trauma physician assistant, who works with the trauma surgeon, is also on the unit and always available. “We have excellent physician assistants who work hard and they do an awesome job,” Lipka reports.
Although working with critically ill patients can be very intense, Lipka really enjoys her job. “The staff is like a family,” she says. “We all work well together, it’s a good team, and we’re pretty much here all the time.”
What she likes best about her job is taking care of the patients. “They depend on us 100 percent,” she points out. “Most of them come in critically ill and they work so hard to get better. They even come back to see us after they recover.” The downside? “I think the hardest thing is when we work so hard to save someone’s life and we can’t. I try to leave everything here at the end of the day, but it doesn’t always happen. It goes home with me – anyone who has a heart feels the same way.”
Lipka would advise those who want to pursue nursing to do it for the right reasons. “You need to have compassion and truly want to help others,” she states. “Patients can tell who really wants to be there caring for them.” She says a patient’s family members are just as important. “I work with the families, as well. They want to be by the bedside of their loved ones.”
When her day ends, Lipka is happy to go home and spend time with her two sons. She loves attending their sporting events and dining out with family and friends. “I’m close to my family,” she admits. “It’s all about friends, family and kids.”
Lipka was honored to receive the 2017 Sue A. Wright Award. “I love what I do!” she exclaims. “It’s stressful, but that comes with the territory. I love being a nurse.”
“I love what I do! It’s stressful, but that comes with the territory. I love being a nurse.”
Photography by Jennifer Hodney