“There isn’t a shift or day that goes by when I don’t think of the reason I became a nurse.”
“Even if we do not view a particular surgery as a major procedure, to that family, it is major in a lot of ways and we need to recognize that.”
“Every day I think, ‘I can’t believe I get to do this.’”
RN, Pediatric Intensive Care
Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare
“I’m a lifer,” Jennifer Bucka says of her job at Gillette Children’s Hospital working with kids with chronic disabilities and complex medical situations. “You will probably bury me here.”
That’s big talk for a woman who never set out to be a nurse in the first place. “I wanted to be a pastor,” Bucka says. “My dad was a pastor, and I was scheduled to be in the religion cohort in college.” But something about it didn’t feel right. “I talked it over with my mom and she said, ‘Why don’t you think about being a nurse?’ It was a lightning bolt.”
When her dad was diagnosed with cancer, it made that lightning bolt seem like destiny. “Being able to walk with him through his journey and be his bedside nurse—he is the reason that I became a nurse,” Bucka says. He died in 2010, the same year Bucka passed her nursing boards.
“Toward the end, my dad was totally dependent on us. And in the Gillette ICU, a lot of kids with chronic disabilities are totally dependent on their loved ones.” It surprised her how much she adored the kids. “Our population at Gillette is so unique. They are kids who don’t know any differently in their life. They don’t need a toy to get them through their operation. They just want love.”
These 49 finalists, combined with the 13 award winners, represent the top 25 percent of nurses nominated this year.