Marcy Kowalski, a clinical nurse coordinator at North Suburban Medical Center in Thornton, said it was her fascination with the human body that led her to look into the health care profession as a possible career option.
"I first went to school to become a certified nursing assistant and I loved it," Kowalski said. "I just wanted to keep learning more and more. I became a licensed practical nurse and then a registered nurse."
After earning her nursing assistant certification from Pima Medical Institute in 1990, Kowalski went on to earn her registered nursing degree from Front Range Community College in 1995.
While she was earning her various degrees, Kowalski was working at North Suburban – where she has been ever since. Her career with the hospital has been a positive one that has offered her many opportunities to grow and supporting her throughout her career.
Spending her entire nursing career at North Suburban, Kowalski worked her way up through the ranks with both experience and education. She started out as a nursing assistant, then worked as an LPN and now works as an RN. "I started out working in the nursery and began doing some patient education classes," she said. "I got my lactation certification, and, in 1998, I became the hospital’s clinical coordinator of parent education and lactation services."
Kowalski’s hard work and dedication has not been overlooked. A 13-year employee of North Suburban, Kowalski was chosen as the 2002 HealthONE Hero for the hospital. She was recognized for creating better lives and bringing an exceptional level of professional and personal dedication to expectant and new parents as the manager of the hospital’s newborn wellness program called Healthy Beginnings.
Along with managing the Healthy Beginnings program, Kowalski also coordinates and is the instructor for many of the hospital’s parent education classes. Additionally, she also is a lactation consultant, providing new mothers with breastfeeding education and support.
The presentation for the HealthONE Hero award was not what one might expect for an award ceremony. As part of being chosen as North Suburban Medical Center’s HealthONE Hero, Kowalski was honored at a Colorado Rockies baseball game. The hospital’s chief nursing officer, Shirley McJohnston, presented Kowalski with a commemorative plaque on the field while the game announcer read a tribute to her accomplishments. Along with the tribute and plaque, Kowalski also was given 100 tickets to the game for her family, friends, co-workers and health care-related community members, so she had a full house of supporters in the audience.
Kowalski said her job is very rewarding and she really enjoys helping mothers and their babies with wellness and safety issues. "I’m glad to be able to offer resources for them and to be a support person," she said. "It’s fulfilling to see healthy, happy patients."
Although her job comes with many positive moments, Kowalski said she gets frustrated with other aspects of her work. Along with her other responsibilities, Kowalski also is actively involved in the community as a certified child passenger safety technician, providing car seat safety checks on weekends. "I’m a certified child passenger safety technician and conduct free monthly car seat safety checks in the community," she said. "Approximately 97 percent of parents install their car seats incorrectly, and it frustrates me that more people don’t take advantage of our car seat check-up events."
Throughout her years in the medical field, Kowalski said she has seen a shift to having more emphasis on parent education and resources as well more family centered care and more hospital community outreach, which is something North Suburban has done over the years.
Kowalski said she enjoys her work at North Suburban because people are open-minded and willing to expand the needed services and have provided encouragement for her to grow professionally and personally by offering her opportunities to try new things. "Staff like working here and so there is low turnover," Kowalski said. "I have friends who have worked here as long as I have."
When she looks at her future in nursing, Kowalski said she would like to someday open a hospital-based library with videos for new parents to check out or purchase. She said she also would like to open a boutique for women and children with nursing supplies and health- and safety-related products.
When Kowalski’s not at the hospital or doing car seat safety inspections, she said she enjoys spending her free time with her husband and 5-year-old daughter. "I love to go camping," she said. "I also enjoy vegetable gardening and interior decorating."