'In nursing, there is a niche for everyone,' says Ascension Via Christi RN

For as long as she can remember, Erica Cameron wanted to be a nurse. After giving birth to her son five years ago, she further refined her goal.

"All during nursing school, I had my heart set on Labor and Delivery and wanted to help better other people's experiences," says Cameron, who began her healthcare career in 2014 working as a certified nurse aide working on a cardiac unit at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis.

"I never really considered other options," says the now 26-year-old Wichitan.

So she was thrilled to get a nurse tech position in the NewLife Center at Ascension Via Christi St. Joseph, where she continued to work all through nursing school.

"Everyone worked together so well," says Cameron, noting that as the "one place in the hospital where people want to be" and Labor and Delivery tends to be a happy place full of joyous moments. "I wanted to be a part of it."

After receiving her bachelor's in Nursing degree from Wichita State University eight months ago, she accepted a position as a Labor and Delivery nurse. Almost immediately, she began to have second thoughts about her new role.

"Switching to a nurse role, you take on different responsibilities," she says. "Labor and Delivery was so much more complex and pulled so many different roles into one."

She found that stressful, but thought, "I just have to at least give it a chance to see if I can be more comfortable in this role because I worked so hard to get here."

Cameron received great support from her preceptors, RNs Miranda Soriano and Meredith Morris. "Cameron is a really hard worker who, for being a graduate nurse, does really well juggling multiple tasks and managing her time," says Morris.

Even so, moving with the patient from admission to delivery and all the charting that came with it made her feel like she was "drowning" as she tried to make herself fit in a role that just wasn't her.

But instead of giving up, she reached out to Lacee Reymer, a friend from nursing school who works in the Emergency Department at St. Francis, and asked if she could shadow her on the job.

With the approval of nurse manager Pam Albright, she began following Reymer anytime their individual work schedules would allow her to do so for the next month. She soon decided that she had found a place within the hospital that was a good fit for her.

"I liked the fast pace and task-oriented aspect of the ER, being able to work with multiple patients and experience something new on every shift," says Cameron.

When she told Albright that she thought she had found the place that would help her find her joy within nursing, she says, "I think she literally skipped down the hall."

Says Albright: "I encouraged her to come and see what it's really like to make sure that the reality of the ER was what she imagined it to be. I was excited to give someone from within our Ascension Via Christi family a different opportunity, one that met her needs and skill set. That's just a win-win for everyone."

Jayme McEntire, Labor and Delivery manager, says that Cameron is a wonderful nurse who likes to stay busy and always goes the extra mile for patients and her team.

"I hate to see her leave, but I am glad that she has found a role that is a good fit for her and one that keeps her in our Ascension Via Christi family," says McEntire.

Cameron started her new role working in the St. Francis ER on Aug. 2 and she's grateful to be part of an organization that was willing to work with her to find the right fit and a professional calling with  such a great variety of opportunities.

"In nursing, there is a niche for everyone," she says, noting that her only regret is that she didn't do more to explore those options when she was still in school. "Starting out, you just need to keep an open mind even if you think you know what you want to do."

To learn more about opportunities at Ascension Via Christi, go to jobs.ascension.org/kansas.