The whole point of this series is to highlight women, but I would be remiss not to mention that the reason I know Rosie is because her husband is my husband's childhood best friend, and pompadour look-alike. I've known Rosie almost as long as I've known John. When John and I were dating, Rosie and her husband would come to Tennessee for Bonnaroo and hang out with us. And then we would see them when we went to Maryland.
Rosie is one of the kindest, most positive people you'll ever meet. It is no surprise that she made helping women her career. It is also no surprise that she's the kind of nurse that hospitals all over the country are vying for. In the words of Andre 3000, this one goes out to the baby's mamas, mamas... Mamas, mamas, baby mamas, mamas. Meet today's bitch, Rosalie Hunt Gunson!
What is your job title and where do you work?
Currently I work as a travel nurse. This is where a company or hospital hires me though a nursing agency to fill in when they are short-staffed (kind of like a temp position - only very specific, for example I work as a Labor and Delivery travel nurse). It is usually a 13-week contract that can be extended if you and/or the hospital decide. It is an RN (registered nurse) position. I recently got my Women’s Health Care Nurse Practitioner degree and license, but my husband and I wanted to travel before I take a full-time nurse practitioner job to explore the country and find out where we want to live and settle down. The fun thing is the agency you work for gives you furnished housing and pays for your travel expenses on top of your normal pay, making your move and stay in a new city pretty easy. Also, you only work three 12-hour shifts (36 hrs) a week, so on your days off you can explore the city.
When did you first learn about this field of work?
I learned about travel nurses in nursing school in 2005. We had a travel nurse come speak to our class to show us some of the different types of nursing available. I knew I wanted to work in women’s reproductive health before I went to nursing school; it was why I went to nursing school, and I knew I was interested in traveling.
How did you know it was what you wanted to do?
I love working with women and children and educating people about their health, wellness, bodies and options. Through nursing and direct patient care, I find you can really change peoples lives through education and health promotion. There is so much research done stating if women are living healthy, happy lives, so will their children and families. I fully believe this and knew from college this is where my passion lies and where I wanted to focus my career.
What was your path that lead you to the job you have now?
I went to nursing school at Johns Hopkins and graduated in 2005. In school, I worked as a nurse aid and scrub tech (assisting in cesarean sections) in Labor and Delivery. Once I graduated, I started working Labor and Delivery as an RN and did that for about 10 years. I began travel nursing in 2009 and went back and forth between traveling and working as a staff RN. Once I decided to get my Nurse Practitioner in women’s health from the University of Pennsylvania (graduated in 2015 with a master’s degree), I worked part-time while in school and also worked at a fertility clinic, which was an amazing experience to work with people at the beginning of their journey to parenthood. I became certified and taught childbirth education and prenatal yoga on the side. I have worked in a few different states: DC, MD, NY, PA, and now CA.
Favorite piece of advice, business or otherwise?
Surround yourself with people who inspire you and challenge you to step out of your comfort zone. I have had the most amazing teachers at Hopkins and Penn, as well as fellow nurses I have worked with, who are at the forefront of the nursing practice. They are writing textbooks, giving lectures worldwide, and challenging me to stay up to date on the most current evidence based practices, and to go above and beyond the norm. The people you serve deserve the best, so it is our job as providers to make sure we can give them that. I have had many times in my career where I could have decided to stay where I was and keep doing my same job, but instead I decided to step out of my comfort zone and strive for more (example: further education, yoga certification, childbirth education certification, travel nursing), and those experiences helped me grow so much and give back so much more.
Failure you learned from or that helped you improve the way you work?
I learned that you have to take time for yourself. I do this now by doing little things (yoga, a massage, reading a good book). As a health provider, you can give and give and give and forget about yourself. I learned from experience that no one will look out for you if you are not looking out for yourself. I don’t mean that in a negative way, but in a sense that if you are living a healthy, balanced life, you can live by example and help others do the same, and actually provide better care.
What would you do with 2 more hours a day?
I would take an art class. I love art, painting, drawing and art history, but don’t usually give myself the time to do that.
What is your greatest success (or something you’re most proud of) in your professional life?
I feel getting my Women’s Health Care Nurse Practitioner degree from Penn has been my greatest success. It was rated the #1 advanced practice nursing school in the country the year I graduated, and as someone who only had average to good grades in high school, going to an Ivy league college and completing my degree while working (even though it took me 4 years) was a great accomplishment.
What’s the first app or website you open when you wake up in the morning?
Twitter or Facebook. I use Twitter to get my daily news since I follow a lot of organizations and news sites, and Facebook to connect with friends and family. I am part of a Facebook group called “gypsy nurses”. It is full of travel RN’s and they are always posting awesome pictures of the places they are (Alaska, the Keys, Virgin Islands, pretty much every state), and giving each other tips and motivation.
How do you decompress at the end of the work day?
I love good food and cooking, so I try to cook or go somewhere fun to eat with my hubby. I am close with my family, so giving them a call on my way home even if it’s only for 5 minutes makes me feel happy and grounded, especially when I am living out of state. Also, I practice yoga and meditation regularly and that helps me to decompress.
What’s the hardest thing about your job that isn’t obvious?
Sometimes, both in Labor and Delivery and as a women’s health provider, you see people at one of the best moments of their lives (having a baby can be so wonderful and exciting), but sometimes, not often, but sometimes, it is the hardest day in someone’s life, and when there is a tragedy, or circumstances that are sad, it can be hard to stay strong and professional for the patient. This sort of thing used to make me very uncomfortable as a new nurse. I did not know what to say or do. I have learned now mostly through doing and working with some amazing nurses, doctors, and midwives how to help people through difficult moments, and now I find peace and purpose in doing so. As a nurse, you see and are a part of people’s most private and intimate moments, literally life and death, and learning how to navigate that in a way that honors and respects the individual and being able to do that and then go home and live your own life is something I am always working on.
What is one thing everyone gets wrong about what you do?
I think people assume that nursing is all manual labor skills (cleaning people up, helping people to the bathroom, etc). They may not realize how important using your brain is in this profession. Nurses get a bad wrap in the media and on TV. I think that is changing, but it is something we still have to fight. Nurses catch medical errors and their advocacy for patients is so important in preventing bad outcomes. Also, many people don’t know the role of a nurse practitioner. They do not know that nurse practitioners are also known as mid-level providers and can prescribe medications and basically see patients the same as a physician in an office.
Lastly, and most important, what is your favorite TV show and what is your favorite snack?
My favorite TV show right now is VEEP. I feel like I know DC so well and I like seeing shows that poke fun at it. I also like House of Cards. My favorite snack is chips and hummus or nachos.
All photos courtesy of Rosalie Hunt Gunson
P.S. Meet last week's bitch: Community Engagement Director, Katie Stone!
P.P.S. Full list of My Bitches here.