Miranda Bryant (left)
Marina Spalla (right)
It’s no secret that sisters tend to share a great deal. From blouses, to music taste to DNA, sisters can find common ground in minute details and important life decisions. For sisters Marina Spalla and Miranda Bryant, they shared a passion for assisting others which lead them both to the field of nursing. After Marina graduated from St. Elizabeth School of Nursing, Miranda followed in her footsteps. With the same nursing degree from the same nursing school, they both have found themselves in positions where they serve geriatric populations.
Marina grew up in Rensselaer, Indiana and graduated from St. Elizabeth School of Nursing in 2014. She now works at Franciscan Health Crown Point in the ICU as a Registered Nurse and Release Charge Nurse. She would like to thank the school for making her the nurse she is today.
Unsurprisingly, Miranda is also from Rensselaer, Indiana. She graduated from St. Elizabeth School of Nursing in 2018 and is now a staff nurse in the rehab unit at Westminster Village, a skilled nursing facility in West Lafayette, Indiana.
WHY DID YOU BECOME A NURSE?
Marina Spalla: I always knew I wanted to work in the healthcare field, I just didn’t know how. I actually started at Butler University and wanted to be a physician’s assistant, but after a semester I just wasn’t very happy. Anita Reed is a family friend, so my mom encouraged me to talk to her. After meeting with her, I applied to St. Elizabeth School of Nursing and got in and the rest was history. I love taking care of people, not just the health aspect but the ADLs (Activities of Daily Living). I’m definitely a caring person so it just made sense.
Miranda Bryant: I never really knew what I wanted to do when I was in high school. I just always knew that I felt my most comfortable and my happiest when I was helping other people. I did it at home anytime anyone was sick, and it was my favorite thing to do. Then we did a rotation in one of my high school classes where we went to a nursing home and we worked with the patients. The teacher of that class was a nurse and she told us all these great stories about how she got to help people, and that was really when I decided to become a nurse.
WHAT IS YOUR BEST MEMORY FROM NURSING SCHOOL?
Marina: There’s so many. I have a really good friend, Liz, and we used to do all sorts of funny things. Probably the best thing we did was a time where we took the manikins’ geriatric wigs from the SIM lab. We put them on with these blue scrub caps and just sat and waited for Anita to see us. I have a photo of it somewhere. It’s quite adorable.
Miranda: My fondest memory was probably the first time I was able to go into a room and introduce myself and not have any question about whether or not I should be there—When I walked in and was able to be like “Yep, this is where I’m supposed to be.” It took some time for me to get to that point. My first year and a half of nursing school I was terrified. But patients are vulnerable, just as vulnerable as I feel and I’m there to serve them, so I have to just put on my big girl hat. It just took some time to get there.
MIRANDA, DID YOU EVER HAVE A CONVERSATION WITH YOUR SISTER ABOUT WANTING TO FOLLOW THE SAME CAREER PATH?
Miranda: I did! After she had already started nursing school, St. Elizabeth had come to my high school my junior year. She was just finishing up college and I just remember how much she loved nursing school.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO NEW NURSES?
Marina: Ask lots of questions. Ask all the questions, even if you think you know the answer. I think it’s so scary when new nurses are quiet.
Miranda: Don’t sweat the small stuff. It doesn’t matter if you have the best supplies, just always have your stethoscope and a pen light!
HOW DID ST. ELIZABETH SCHOOL OF NURSING PREPARE YOU FOR YOUR CAREER?
Marina: There are so many ways. I really liked the hands-on aspect where you’re taking care of patients right out of the gate. It really helped me build up my confidence with patient interaction. Not only that, but the “Franciscan way” and the values they hold are really instilled in you. The accessibility to your instructors was huge as well. It sounds cheesy, but the school is so good at helping students learn.
Miranda: I was able to be hands-on from the start, so I was more comfortable as soon as I got into my profession to actually work with every population. I don’t see every population that we covered in nursing school, but I run into my patients’ families, their kids and grandkids. And of course, all of the material we covered in school. I definitely use all of it!
IF YOU WEREN'T A NURSE, WHAT WOULD YOU BE?
Marina: I actually talk about this all the time. If I wasn’t a nurse, I would have gotten a degree in library science. The only reason I say this is because when I was in nursing school I worked at a library as a page and I was really interested in the genealogy stuff.
Miranda: It would have to be something in the medical field because that’s where I feel most comfortable. At my job they have “caregivers.” It’s not a hands-on role. You just spend time with the residents and do tasks for them, visit with them and learn about their lives. I’d probably do that.
MARINA, WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB IN THE FIELD AFTER YOU COMPLETED YOUR DEGREE?
Marina: My first position was at Franciscan Health Crown Point on a Med-Surg floor called OSO because it had oncology, surgery and orthopedic patients. It was kind of a grab bag of everything, but there was a heavy focus on surgery.
WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR CURRENT ROLE?
Marina: As an ICU Nurse I take care of critical patients, open-heart, intubated patients, drips and all that. I’m also a charge nurse sometimes.
Miranda: As a staff nurse, I admit patients to the facility. I perform assessments including nursing assessments and neurological assessments. I’m there to help them go about their normal nighttime routine. I give them medication and assess if there are any changes in their status, especially because we get a lot of patients post-surgery. And I’m there if they need anything. I’m their go-to person, whether that’s emotionally or physically.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT YOUR CURRENT JOB?
Marina: I never thought I’d want to be an ICU nurse, but I learned that I’m a very type-A person so being able to focus in on every detail about my patients is great for me. And seeing patients improve with the treatments you’re administering is incredible. Plus, I’m a weirdo and I love calculating drips.
Miranda: My residents. I get to meet all kinds of new people, especially on the rehab-to-home side. It’s not a long-term care site so I get to see all these people come in and out after surgery. I see them from start to finish and how they progress, whether they weren’t able to ambulate without assistance or if they weren’t able to walk at all when they get to us. We get them moving to the best of their ability. I’ve seen people come in with a wheelchair unable to walk and we get them up and moving with a walker and they’re able to go home. That’s an awesome feeling.
WHAT IS THE TOUGHEST PART ABOUT BEING A NURSE?
Marina: It’s emotional. But right now, what’s been really difficult is end-of-life care. Dying with dignity is very important to me and it’s hard for healthcare professionals to get that across to patients’ families. I’d prefer to see a 94-year-old patient pass comfortably, without the mask and all the drips, but families don’t always understand that. Death is difficult for a lot of different reasons.
Miranda: The emotional aspect that comes with it. You’re taking on other people’s problems—that’s what you sign up to do. It definitely has an impact, but it’s interesting because that’s also the best part of it.
HOW DO YOU SEE YOURSELF THROUGH THE LENS OF THE SCHOOL'S MISSION... CONTINUING CHRIST'S HEALING MINISTRY?
Marina: I am always trying to make sure patients are treated with the upmost respect and that I’m doing the absolute best that I can for them in a Christ-like or Franciscan way. And just making sure everyone gets the same care across the board.
Miranda: Through my job, we offer various church services. And any time someone comes in and they’re religious, we try to make it as comfortable as possible and relate to their beliefs through our care. We make a point to serve any and all of their needs regardless of their background.
WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU ARE NOT AT WORK?
Marina: I love to cook. I love everything about cooking: cookbooks, grocery shopping. And spending time with my husband, of course.
Miranda: In my free time, I watch a lot of Netflix. I also go out with friends and we go bowling quite a bit. I’ve looked into continuing education; I just haven’t decided on a full plan. We’ll just have to see what the future holds!