I am Nursing

Celebrating Nursing

Each of our nursing associates at MedStar Washington Hospital Center has a unique story about what drew them to nursing and what keeps them calling the Hospital Center home. In our I am Nursing series, we meet these amazing people, learn more about who they are and what inspires them, and celebrate their commitment to helping others heal. 

For MedStar Washington Hospital Center float nurse Tasha Zochert, nursing is a calling, not a job.  Zochert knows something about callings. She has a few of them.

You can see one of them – her passion for photography – on display at the Galesville MD, River Gallery show dedicated to the Maryland Blue Crab opening this weekend (Sept. 3).

Zochert, Tasha. Blue Crabs. 2016
Zochert, Tasha. Blue Crabs. 2016

Through a close family friend, Zochert was able to meet a crabbing boat at the dock in Chesapeake Beach and photograph them hauling in bushels of blue crabs. Despite taking more than 300 photographs, only two could be submitted for the gallery show.  The result: a photographic study of Maryland blue crabs, one of the Chesapeake’s renowned treasures.

The  photography, says Zochert, is something she happened upon after finishing her nursing degree.

“I took an elective photography class and my final project was on flowers,” she says. Encouraged by her family, teacher, and classmates, she began looking for an art gallery that would be willing to take on a novice photographer.

“As luck would have it, a local gallery’s next show was dedicated to flowers, so I framed two images, and sent them in,” she says. “When my flower photographs actually sold I realized, ‘I just became a professional photographer!’”

Zochert joined the Maryland Federation of Art and her photographs have been in galleries across the state.  While still “a far cry from Ansel Adams,” the photography she says, “isn’t about fame or money. But then,neither is nursing.”

Zochert’s call to nursing came almost as serendipitously as her photography. While living abroad with her family, (her mother was a clinical laboratory scientist on active duty with the military in Germany), Zochert began a paramedic program.  When she returned to the U.S., her credits would not transfer. 

“I didn’t want to have to start from scratch,” she recalls. On her way home from volunteering for an ambulance service she heard an ad on the radio that a hospital was hiring nurses. “I thought, ‘I could become a nurse and work in the emergency department!’” 

Zochert, Tasha. Blue Crabs 2. 2016
Zochert, Tasha. Blue Crabs 2. 2016

She enrolled in a local community college nursing program, and during her critical care rotation “a light bulb went off,” she says. “I thought, ‘This is where I’m supposed to be.’ I love the intensity and detail of critical care.”  She graduated top of her class, went directly into critical care, and now has nearly a decade of experience.

Zochert also loves the simple act of helping people. She jokingly calls her approach to patient care “Tasha’s ICU and Day Spa,” because she is known for doing manicures, washing, combing and braiding hair, shaving and trimming beards, etc.  “Sometimes there are so many machines required to care for the critically ill that it’s frightening for families to see. I always try to keep my patients clean, so the families can recognize their loved one beneath all the tubes and wires.”  Zochert is passionate about ensuring the fundamental dignity of each of her patients.

In October 2014, Zochert came to MedStar Washington Hospital Center’s float pool, where nurses move from unit to unit to fill in where needed.  The uncertainty and challenge of not knowing anyone and the moving between different patients on surgical, burn and neurological units demanded flexibility.   Her critical care nursing skills were widely appreciated, and she was recently honored with the “Chief Nursing Executive Award for Patient Care.” 

Zochert says she bases her patient advocacy on one question: ‘Would I want me to be my nurse?’” 

Today, Zochert is capitalizing on the schedule flexibility afforded by the float pool to earn her BSN.  Zochert considers herself a “life-long student”  and has future aspirations of teaching or becoming an advanced practice nurse. It won’t happen right away, she notes. “I’m not ready to give up being at the bedside.”

Zochert’s photography is on view at the River Gallery at 1000 Main Street, Galesville, MD from September 3 through October 30, 2016.

I am Nursing

I am Nursing

I am nursing

Have any questions?

We are here to help! If you have any questions about nursing at MedStar Washington Hospital Center visit our nursing career page here or contact Human Resources at 202-877-7441.

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Our Nurses find Their “Center”

At MedStar Washington Hospital Center, nurses celebrate Nurses Week with many activities that focus on professional development.

The reason: as the largest health care facility in the nation’s capital, the Hospital Center offers numerous training, specialty and incentive programs to help nurses “find their Center” by training and working in the nursing practice they most enjoy. If a nurse wants to take his or her practice in a new direction, the Hospital Center offers many ways to explore new nursing career choices.

The great variety of nursing practices here is one of the reasons more than a quarter of the 1,700 nurses have worked at the Hospital Center for more than ten years. Many of our new nurses come to nursing as a second career, often through a partnership we have with the George Washington School of Nursing’s Second Degree program.

The breadth and depth of our professional training programs gives the Hospital Center its reputation as one of the nation’s most innovative teaching and acute care medical institutions, with one of the largest nurse residency programs in the country.

The Hospital Center has a national reputation as a leader in nurse training in such specialties as cardiovascular, cancer, kidney disease and transplantation, neurosciences and in the emergency treatment of stroke, trauma and adult burn injury. Some of our specialized nursing environments include:

  • MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, the only dedicated cardiovascular facility in Washington, D.C., and a leader in LVAD and cardiac surgical nurse training.
  • Level I Trauma Center supported by three helicopters with dedicated transport nursing teams
  • The Burn Center, the region’s only adult burn facility and dedicated burn ICU
  • Comprehensive Stroke Center, the first and only hospital in the Washington region with this designation
  • Award-winning neonatal intensive care unit (NICU)

Many of our nurses continue with their education outside the Hospital Center even as they work here. Some of the programs and services we offer include:

  • Tuition reimbursement program for education and conferences
  • Work schedule flexibility to accommodate our educational needs
  • The Center for Excellence in Nursing, one of the only dedicated professional development facilities for nurses in the country
  • A clinical advancement bonus program
  • A leadership academy for nurse managers to develop advanced skills
  • Dedicated nurse scientist support for nursing research and publishing
  • On-the-job support from an experienced Nurse Responder Team and managers who provide bedside assistance

While Nurses Week offers opportunities to thank and celebrate Hospital Center nurses, and to honor their expertise and clinical excellence, it also gives our nurses a chance to explore the many professional options that are available as they “find their Center.”

Have any questions?

We are here to help! If you have any questions about nursing at MedStar Washington Hospital Center visit our nursing career page HERE or contact Human Resources at 202-877-7441.

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I am Nursing

Celebrating Nursing

A professional rugby player, a former ballet dancer and a volunteer who works with the homeless – all are also MedStar Washington Hospital Center nurses.  Learn more about their unique stories, what inspires them and why they are committed to helping others heal in our I am Nursing series.

Patrick Mirabella, MSN, RN, NE-BC: A Nurse Who Lives for the Unexpected

Patrick Mirabella never thought about nursing as a career during high school in Seattle.  A football player with an interest in science and math, Mirabella was focused on becoming a pilot. During his freshman year in college at an aeronautical school, however, it became clear that becoming a pilot wasn’t on his horizon.

“It just wasn’t what I wanted to do,” he explains. “So I started looking for careers that involved science and math, that would have me dealing with people and on my feet, and where I could come to work not knowing what to expect every day.”

He transferred to a nursing program and found it matched his goals.  He also missed the team sports atmosphere of football, so when an ultimate Frisbee teammate suggested he join the rugby team, Mirabella joined – even though he didn’t really know the sport. Mirabella hasn’t looked back. He completed his nursing degree, and has played rugby ever since.

He discovered MedStar Washington Hospital Center through the eye surgeon he worked with, and came to the Hospital Center to work in the outpatient Family Health Center. While there, he completed a master’s in Nursing Administration. Today he’s the nursing director for ambulatory surgical services, running the clinical operations in 16 outpatient clinics – some of them at the Hospital Center, and others in Washington, D.C. and Maryland. With health care’s increasing emphasis on preventive care, Mirabella says, outpatient services are growing so quickly that it fits perfectly with his interest in improvement and innovation.

“It’s continuous process improvement,” he says. “Nothing is static. You implement one new system and then another one needs attention. I am doing what I always wanted to do.”

Hillary Elliott, RN, BSN, CNOR, RNFA: Offering a Passion for the Arts that Translates to Nursing 

Hillary Elliott heard that Edward Woo, MD, Paul Corso, MD and the talented team of surgeons they had assembled for MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute at MedStar Washington Hospital Center were looking for a nurse manager. She recalls thinking that it would be worth moving to work with these world-renowned cardiac and vascular surgeons.

“The vascular and cardiac world is a very small community,” she says.” These surgeons are some of the most respected professionals in the country.”

So when a recruiter contacted her about working at the Hospital Center, she was on board. That was more than a year ago.

Today, the Texas native runs the cardiac, vascular, thoracic and endocrine surgery programs in the Hospital Center operating room. In addition to working with staff scheduling and overseeing the progress on more than 65 procedures a day, she manages supplies and instruments for theses intricate surgeries. “l’ll even scrub in to help out if needed,” she notes. “It’s never boring.”

Although her mother was a nurse practitioner, “As a teenager, you never want to do what your parents do,” Elliott laughs. So she threw herself into dance, and in her teen years was dancing with the Joffrey Ballet and other companies. “After a number of years, l realized it was only going to take me so far. Eventually, eventually my body would give out.” That’s when she moved into nursing.

Elliott believes nursing requires the same passion as dance. “Nursing is an art. It takes years and years to master your art form. In both nursing and dance, you stretch your abilities beyond what you think you can do. It takes that same dedication.”

The payoff: “You’re giving back to the community. There’s nothing like it.”


Learn more about some of our talented nurses at MedStar Washington Hospital center below. 




Have any questions?

We are here to help! If you have any questions about nursing at MedStar Washington Hospital Center visit our nursing career page here or contact Human Resources at 202-877-7441.

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