Erica Corradino never thought she would be a nurse. She had originally gone to school hoping to start a career as a dental hygienist, but nursing ended up being a more practical option. After she earned her LPN, she tried working at a hospital and then a nursing home, but felt somewhat lost.
“I just didn’t seem to like it very much, so I thought ok, I’ve always wanted to be a teacher. I decided I wanted to go back to school for that,” Corradino said. “Then, a friend gave me a call and said ‘NorthShore is hiring, why don’t you come and apply?’”
Now, almost 15 years later, she has grown passionate about her career path as an RN at NorthShore. Over the years, she has found ways to tie her work in healthcare together with her love for education. She recalled one encounter from about eight years ago that left a strong impact on her.
“There was a patient that was pre-diabetic. We went in and gave him all the education on his condition--what he can do,” she said. “He came in three months later and it was gone. I asked what he did and he said ‘I just did everything you told me.’ I was just like, wow. I just wanted more at that point. I am fulfilling that teaching role I wanted, just not with children like I’d originally imagined. It was nursing kind of by default, but it ended up being my passion.”
That moment inspired Corradino to start working her way towards become a nurse practitioner, who is licensed to diagnose conditions and prescribe medications. Earning a master’s degree, working as a nurse, and being a mom leave Corradino with a jam-packed schedule.
Despite her busy schedule, she loves it all and is considering teaching at the graduate level at Indiana University Northwest part-time once she finishes her education.
“Everyone always asks me ‘how do you do it?’ and the answer is that you just do it,” she said. “If you have a goal, you make it work. Honestly, without my mother, my husband, and my family, it would be rough.”
One reason that Corradino loves working at NorthShore is the wide range of patients she gets to work with. As a federally qualified nonprofit community health clinic, they serve all patients regardless of their ability to pay and tackle all kinds of medical categories and age ranges.
“I love that indigent population--we have people coming in with commercial insurance, Medicaid, or even no insurance at all, but there’s no treating anyone differently,” Corradino said. “When someone walks in that door, we have what they need. There’s so many resources here and we help such a wide range of patients, not just those who can afford whatever they need.”
Her favorite part of the day, however, are those small interactions with patients.
“Patients want a nurse who greets them with a smile, every single patient,” she said. “People ask if I’m always this happy and always this nice and it’s like, why not? I’ve heard stories from other organizations where patients said they felt like customers. Here they appreciate that they feel like a patient from the moment they walk in the door at NorthShore.”
To learn more about NorthShore Health Centers, visit www.northshorehealth.org.