Clinical Center employee chases dream, changes career
After 18 years of working at NIH, Lisa Krueger has just accomplished what many only dream of – she has earned a college education by attending school part-time over the past five years and has made a dramatic career change from an administrative assistant to a nurse resident in the NIH Clinical Center.
Krueger, a former assistant for Dr. David Henderson, the CC deputy director for clinical care and associate director for hospital Epidemiology and Quality Improvement, is now a nurse resident on 5SE. On the unit, she cares for patients with infectious diseases, rheumatologic and immune disorders as well as patients with sickle cell disease and pulmonary disorders. She began working at the NIH with the Student Temporary Employment Program in the National Human Genome Research Institute while she took college courses and also worked in the NIH Clinical Center's Critical Care Medicine Department with Dr. Henry Masur.
"I was unsure of what I wanted to do, so I eventually stopped taking classes altogether. After working with the Office of the Deputy Director for Clinical Care for a few years, I was inspired by Dr. Henderson, Laura Lee (director of the Office of Patient Safety and Clinical Quality) and other nurses to go back to school, to become a nurse and to have a hands on role in patient care," she said. "I started at community college and then moved on to the University of Maryland School of Nursing."
She graduated with a degree in nursing in December 2015 and was hired in the CC Nursing Department in October 2016. As a new graduate of a nursing program, she was also selected to participate in the Clinical Research Nursing Residency Program.
"Working toward this degree was the biggest challenge of my life. It was very difficult at times to balance work, classes, clinical hours, studying and my family life," she said. "Now, to have the amazing opportunity to continue my work here at the Clinical Center as a nurse resident, I am beyond thrilled and honored to be a part of the Nursing Department."
Krueger went on to say she could not picture herself working as a nurse anywhere else besides the CC.
"I wanted to turn my job into a career, focusing on patient care and patient safety. My first day working on the unit was a bit of a culture shock. I was always aware I worked in a hospital, but it didn't really sink in until I was actually on a patient care unit and in a patient room. I felt a great sense of accomplishment that my work over the years at NIH and in nursing school, were finally coming together as one."
While pursuing this degree took hard work, Krueger recommends other staff follow their dreams if they're thinking of a career change.
"My advice to anyone thinking about pursuing a drastic career change would be to not doubt yourself or your abilities, to lean on friends, family and colleagues when you need to, and to persevere!"