We couldn’t do what we do without them

While their responsibilities are different, the staff who support nurses and patient care have some things in common: they appreciate the trust the nurses have in them, are compassionate in caring for patients, and they find even the smallest task rewarding. Another common thread they share is that nurses rely on them and appreciate the invaluable support they provide, which allows them to focus their energy where it’s needed most.

Dawn Cleary, medical assistant

Dawn Cleary, MA

When Dawn Cleary walks through the door to perform her duties as a medical assistant (MA) she feels respected by her colleagues.

“The nurses and other providers are always willing to help, they’re easy to approach and I am always learning from them,” Dawn said.

Dawn became an MA in 2015 after working for years in a completely different field at another area employer. She went back to school, drawn to help others through health care.

“There is always something to do, and I get to interact with patients and make connections with them and the other staff,” Dawn said.

Among her tasks as an MA at the Odana Rd Clinic, Dawn prepares exam rooms and patients for examination, takes vital signs, documents allergies and medications, assists with minor procedures, performs EKGs and bladder scans, administers vaccines and other injections, keeps track of forms, responds to MyChart messages and processes prescription refill requests.

Dawn also helps train students and new employees or use her expertise on a larger project.

The daily structure provides stability, but every day is different. “The most difficult part of the job is responding to unexpected clinical and administrative emergencies while maintaining professionalism and patience,” Dawn said. Most importantly, Dawn looks forward to going to work. “While some days are rough, I remember I can’t control everything, and I have a great team of people around me who support each other.”

Don Mai, nursing care partner

No two days are the same for Don Mai. As a nursing care partner his work has varied from delivering meal trays to holding a 6-month-old baby, from playing card games with a 20-year-old patient to sitting with a middle-aged patient in the emergency department (ED).

“I enjoy my job because I get to help our staff with the smallest things that can make their days easier, such as turning over rooms in the ED, running things to different locations in the hospital, answering phone calls and call lights and restocking supplies on the unit,” he said.

For most of the shifts, Don experiences something new often with a new care team in different departments. “This is extremely exciting and motivating for me as I get to learn new things about the medical field,” Don said.

Don is channeling that experience and applying to medical school in 2023 to advance his career.

Naomi Massey Haas, health unit coordinator

Naomi Massey Haas

After many years working as a health unit coordinator (HUC), Naomi Massey Haas continues to learn something new almost every day. “I frequently run out of time to delve further into my never-ending wish list of opportunities to improve our workflow and processes,” Naomi said.

Naomi works at American Family Children’s Hospital on P5, the Pediatric General Medicine/Surgical Unit.

“A health unit coordinator serves as a bridge between a unit’s nursing staff and colleagues across UW Health,” Naomi said.

Through communication and quick problem-solving skills, HUCs anticipate the needs of team members providing direct patient care. “We have a go-with-the-flow attitude and need to be quick on our feet to support the team as patient conditions change rapidly,” she said.

Naomi credits leaders who encourage the HUC team to share ideas about improving workflow and increasing efficiency. “We get to apply our diverse skills, create new work processes and collaborate across disciplines, which results in engaged individuals on the team,” Naomi said.

“We focus on patient safety and confidentiality while working with our nurses to provide patient- and family-centered care by establishing connections between our patient families and UW Health’s incredible variety of resources,” Naomi said.

Nick Moorehead, certified nursing assistant

Nick Moorehead, CNA

As Nick Moorehead worked his way up to a senior role in environmental services supporting the surgery team at University Hospital, he got a close-up look at the inner workings of what it takes to help nurses and other providers with patient care. “I am a person who loves to help others whenever I can,” Nick said.

His experience combined with his attitude made it an easier transition when Nick made the career move about a year ago to work as a nursing assistant (NA) after completing the internal UW Health program for nursing assistant certification.

Among his duties, Nick assists patients with personal hygiene, repositions them in their beds and takes their vital signs. Primarily working with orthopedic and medical patients at East Madison Hospital, he finds a way to connect with them, ensuring they are comfortable during their stay. Nick’s patients share their appreciation for his “can-do” attitude and his ability to brighten their day with his smile, even through the mask.

“I am motivated by knowing I can come into work to help different patients and their families through the tough times of being in the hospital,” Nick said.

Check out more stories featuring the great work of our nurses in the 2022 Nursing Annual Report (pdf).