La Crosse nurse starts career during height of pandemic, embraces obstacles in healthcare

New Mayo Clinic Health System nurse finds joy in career where many positions sit empty

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – Vacant nursing positions plague Wisconsin hospitals state-wide. There are nurses who are still pursuing this career despite the immense challenges they face.

Last year, the Department of Workforce Development projected there would be more than 10,000 vacant nursing positions by 2030. But there are still people pursuing this career because of the impact they can make right now.

“I can say it was definitely an experience,” said Anna Williams, a registered nurse at Mayo Clinic Health System.

One year has passed since Williams took to the front lines as a registered nurse. The pandemic canceled her classes. Her work for her degree took place on a screen.

“Graduation, I did not get a pinning ceremony,” Williams said.

William’s position is a role many healthcare bodies struggle to find. Then she was placed on the floor of an ICU during the greatest obstacle for healthcare in recent memory.

“You come to work and then you take care of these patients, and then you see them pass away,” Williams said. “Or, they go off to the next floor and you don’t know if they’re gonna survive or not. It’s very heartbreaking.”

These past 365 days gave Williams an opportunity to be there for people even if it meant they wouldn’t leave the hospital.

“Realize that maybe I didn’t save the day or do anything too heroic, but just holding their hands and making sure they’re comfortable,” she said. “It just eased the family members.”

Her hope is others will embrace the duty to the community’s healthcare system.

“You rely so much on the staff around you,” Williams said. “I have to say, the staff I work with was just amazing.”

She said this first year on the job taught her about hospitality.

“Be considerate of other people,” Williams said. “Whether you believe in vaccines or not, whether you wear a mask or not.”

The start of her career came at a time that wasn’t easy but was necessary for so many people in need of an advocate for their health. Williams said she was advancing her career while working as an RN.  That helped her stick with it even when it was hard.

She said people need to find a balance between their career and their life at home.

Williams has some advice for students pursuing a nursing career. She said to ask a lot of questions and know there are a lot of people in healthcare who will help you achieve your goals.

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