Family ties to health care and UW Health

Christine Abong (far right), and her husband Francis Abong (second from right), are filled with pride that their daughters Frances Christylle (far left) and Katrina Ella (second from left), made the decision to become nurses. The quiet, family vibe of Madison, Wisconsin, kept Christine and Francis here after moving from the Philippines for Christine’s nursing position at UW Health more than 20 years ago. The reputation of the UW Health Nurse Residency Program drew their daughters here, making them a full-fledged UW Health family.

Nursing is a profession deeply rooted in compassion, care and dedication to the well-being of others. For families like Christine Abong’s, this call to serve is a shared family trait.

“You are in nursing because you want to help and make a difference,” said Christine, MSN, RN, CNN, and inpatient dialysis manager, UW Health. “I tell my children that it is a calling, because if you don’t have those traits, you won’t be in this profession very long.”

Christine, a UW Health nurse for the past 20 years, has two children following in her footsteps. Daughter Frances Christylle is in her first year as a nurse resident in perioperative services, while her sister, Katrina Ella, started as a clinic nurse resident at EMH Orthopedic Clinic in February.

Her daughters’ career choice was not something Christine ever saw coming when she became a UW Health nurse two decades ago. Growing up in the Philippines, she was drawn to a job in health care, but after putting herself through college, realized she would have more opportunities as a nurse if she moved abroad. So, in 2003, Christine moved to Madison with about 30 other aspiring nurses as part of a partnership between UW Health an agency.

Christine was assigned to work for UW Health, so she and her husband, Francis — a UW Health medical assistant — moved to Madison and settled in before bringing their three young children with them the following year.

As Christine delved into her nursing career, her dedication to patient care became evident to everyone around her — including her daughters. Witnessing their mother’s compassion and the impact she made on people’s lives, Katrina Ella and Frances Christylle chose to embark on their own nursing journeys. They both travelled to their parents’ home country to study nursing and have recently returned following graduation.

“It was really our Nurse Residency Program that brought them back here,” Christine said. “They’re able to be in a learning program where they’re protected and are getting great experience with a holistic approach to health care.”

Her daughters’ decision to become nurses has filled Christine with pride. They share a familial bond and a passion for healing, which further strengthens Christine’s commitment to making a positive impact in health care.

“I try to be honest with my children and tell them that nursing is not an easy job, and it’s not for the weak of heart,” Christine said. “Your schedule varies, you work nights, there is a lot of learning and a lot of stress because you are dealing with human beings and lives.

“But you get to take care of someone and give kindness and compassion. It’s about making connections and being appreciated. When you see what your actions can do for someone else and they are appreciating you, you’ve already won, because you are making a difference in their lives. You’re connected to a life. And I’ve tried to teach my children that.”

Check out more stories featuring the great work of our nurses in the 2023 Nursing Year in Review (pdf).