Called to care: how life-saving treatment inspired these patients to pursue healthcare careers

Man sitting up in hospital bed being pushed through hallway lined with cheering hospital workers

Across HCA Healthcare’s more than 2,000 sites of care, our 275,000 colleagues pursued careers in healthcare for many different reasons. Perhaps the biggest reason is a desire to make a difference in the lives of others.  Below, we share three inspiring stories of healthcare heroes who discovered their passion for the field when they were on the other side of the stethoscope — as patients.

There are so many wonderful reasons to pursue a career in healthcare — improving lives, helping people through difficult times, witnessing life’s big milestones or working towards a cure for cancer, to name a few. But many of our colleagues were moved to join the field after they themselves were helped through a health crisis by care teams who were truly dedicated. In their most difficult moments, these colleagues learned firsthand the power of caring like family. And it’s their experience as patients that enables them to bring compassion and empathy to their roles every day. Meet three HCA Healthcare colleagues who were called to care.

Natalie, Patient Safety Screener

Timpanogos Regional Hospital

On left, a woman in hospital bed holding a heart-shaped pillow, and on right, the same woman taking a hospital visitor's temperature.
After receiving care at HCA Healthcare’s Timpanogos Regional Medical Center, Natalie Ficklin-Holliday decided to pursue a healthcare career at the same hospital that saved her life.

Natalie Ficklin-Holliday received life-saving care at HCA Healthcare’s Timpanogos Regional Hospital in Orem, Utah. In the wake of a weight loss surgery by a non-HCA Healthcare provider, Natalie experienced severe complications that prevented her from eating. In the six months after the surgery, she lost 120 lbs., and her strength and health deteriorated.

Natalie began suffering from seizures and was rushed to Timpanogos Regional Hospital. Her condition worsened as she went into cardiac arrest five times. But her care team at the hospital resuscitated and cared for her through the night for 14 hours. They saved her life.

“They fight for you at Timpanogos Regional Hospital. They wouldn’t let me die,” Natalie said.

She remained in the cardiac ICU where the surgical cardiac team used cutting-edge, 3D imaging technology to identify and repair three complications from her earlier weight loss surgery.

“They cared for me as a human being rather than a patient room number. I felt safe in a very scary time, and I was taken care of emotionally as well as medically,” Natalie said. This care she received inspired her to want to give the same attention to other patients.

“I got another chance at life – a chance to do better and serve people the way I had been served. I asked myself what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, and I decided I wanted to work at Timpanogos Regional Hospital,” Natalie said. “In fact, it was the only place I wanted to be, and those were the only people I wanted to work with.”

After a year of recovering at home, Natalie realized her dream and became a patient safety screener at the hospital. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, she served as a frontline COVID-19 screener, delivering compassion along with COVID-19 tests. She continues to screen patients today, thoughtfully greeting and interacting with every colleague, patient and community member who enters the hospital.

Megan, Patient Care Navigator

Blake Medical Center

On right, a woman wearing scrubs and a face mask, and on left, a childhood photo of the woman and her father.
Megan Hawkins sustained injuries in a house fire at two years old. Her father was injured as well, with up to 40% of his body affected by burns. Today, Megan cares for other burn victims as a nurse at Blake Medical Center.

At HCA Healthcare’s Blake Medical Center, Megan Hawkins helps burn patients as a patient care navigator. She understands what they’re going through because at two years old, she was injured during a house fire. Her father was injured as well, with up to 40% of his body affected by burns.

What she went through with her father led her to a career in healthcare at HCA Healthcare’s Blake Medical Center in Bradenton, Florida, where she started as a bedside nurse.

“I have had patients in the past where, in a moment where they are having a rough day or a rough time, I think that’s an important thing to say to them, I have been through this. My family has been through this. You will get through this too. Just kind of giving them that outlook that life will get normal again. It will take you working really hard and us working with you, but we are here for you and you will get through it,” she told Fox News 13 during Burn Awareness Week.

Megan is now a patient care navigator at Blake Medical Center, which is one of only six burn centers in the state. She also takes her work beyond its walls, spreading awareness to the public about burn injuries and how to avoid them.

Henry, Patient Safety Screener

North Florida Regional Medical Center

In April 2020, North Florida Regional Medical Center in Gainesville, Florida, discharged its first COVID-19 patient, Henry James. Henry experienced a miraculous recovery after a month in the hospital’s ICU — so miraculous that his care team came to know him as the “Amazing Henry.” And to him, they were his “guardian angels.”

“When I was out here in March I got introduced to some fabulous angels,” said Henry. “I love these nurses… they are my angels.”

Since his recovery, Henry returned to visit his angels in the ICU frequently. And despite the pandemic making this a challenging time to be in healthcare, Henry decided to apply to join the North Florida Regional Medical Center community.

This spring — almost a year to the day of being admitted to North Florida Regional Medical Center as its first COVID-19 patient — Henry officially joined the team where he works several days a week as a patient safety screener. As a screener, Henry provides a friendly face at hospital entrances and helps to screen entrants for infectious diseases and respiratory illnesses with a verbal and temperature assessments.

Before and after each shift at the hospital, Henry makes sure to visit his guardian angels in the ICU.

“I don’t feel comfortable not coming back to thank them and show them that I appreciate what they did… I love them dearly,” Henry said. “It’s very exciting to come back and to give back.”

Man wearing a Coronavirus Survivor t-shirt standing with his hospital care team.
COVID-19 survivor, Henry James, is grateful for the care provided to him at HCA Healthcare’s North Florida Regional Medical Center. To pay it forward, Henry decided to apply for a job at the hospital and now serves HCA Healthcare patients as a patient safety screener.

“To me, he was my angel,” said Carrie Browning, an intensive care unit nurse who took care of Henry at North Florida Regional Medical Center. “I think that patients like him show us what we do day in and day out, and they don’t realize the impact they have on our lives.”

Henry, Natalie and Megan represent the many HCA Healthcare colleagues who were “called to care” because of their own positive patient experiences. And who knows? The care they now provide may someday inspire a patient of their own to follow in their footsteps.

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About HCA Healthcare

HCA Healthcare, one of the nation's leading providers of healthcare services, is comprised of 182 hospitals and more than 2,300 sites of care, in 20 states and the United Kingdom. Our more than 283,000 colleagues are connected by a single purpose — to give patients healthier tomorrows.

As an enterprise, we recognize the significant responsibility we have as a leading healthcare provider within each of the communities we serve, as well as the opportunity we have to improve the lives of the patients for whom we are entrusted to care. Through the compassion, knowledge and skill of our caregivers, and our ability to leverage our scale and innovative capabilities, HCA Healthcare is in a unique position to play a leading role in the transformation of care.

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