In honor of Nurses Week, which Northwell Health is celebrating throughout May, we are highlighting some of our amazing nurses as they share stories about their careers, challenges, and experiences. Nicole Natale faced one of her greatest challenges early in her career and her experience on the frontlines during the COVID-19 pandemic has shaped friendships, as well as her understanding of what it means to be a nurse.
Currently a registered nurse at North Shore University Hospital (NSUH) in the Neurosurgical Intensive Care Unit (ICU), Nicole Natale began her career in 2017, as a nurse extern at Huntington Hospital. Nicole fell in love with critical care after experiencing the various facets of nursing care while floating from the emergency room and ICU, to the medical-surgical and pediatrics floors during nursing school.
As fate would have it, Nicole was invited to interview with the Neurosurgical ICU at NSUH shortly after losing her aunt to glioblastoma brain cancer just before graduation. The loss of her aunt to brain cancer left Nicole feeling like she was destined to work with neurosurgical patients.
After successfully landing her dream job at NSUH, Nicole’s budding career took an unexpected turn. After she finished the critical care fellowship orientation, the world was suddenly turned upside down as the COVID-19 pandemic began. Being a new graduate in a global pandemic was one of the most challenging obstacles Nicole has ever faced, but she credits the support of her coworkers, her managers, and Northwell leadership for making the experience less tumultuous. As Nicole put it, “Northwell made me feel safe, cared for, and supported, and I am forever grateful to work for this health system.”
Despite the incredible hardships, the experience was invaluable, as Nicole learned so much so quickly. Her coworkers became her role models and her support system as they leaned on one another to survive. “It was such a scary time for all of us. Working in a COVID unit feels like you’re in a battlefield. Working in these conditions brought my work team together and the bonds I have with my coworkers grew so strong that they are like family to me.”
It is this level of support that Nicole cites as one of the many reasons she would encourage anyone to work at Northwell given the opportunity. Examples of the support she receives from Northwell include career growth with clinical ladder and research committees and physical and mental well-being with things like the Lavender Room where staff can relax and unwind. Northwell is proud to advocate for its nurses and all of our team members, at every step of their journey.
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