Nurses of Spok: Traci Bartolomei on making a difference in patients’ lives

At Spok, nursing professionals are critical to our efforts to deliver smarter, faster clinical communication in more than 2,200 hospitals nationwide. We’re proud to highlight these nursing professionals via published conversations like this onethis one, and this one. In this installment, we focus on Traci Bartolomei and how her years as an intensive care unit (ICU) nurse continue to shape her life to this day.

Traci is director of clinical marketing at Spok and one of our newest clinical leaders. In her role she brings her clinical guidance to our product and marketing teams to help ensure our technology can solve challenging customer workflows.

When did you realize that nursing was the right profession for you?

Few people can answer that question with complete clarity, but for me, I knew at the early age of four. While this may seem like an exaggeration to some, allow me to explain. My mom was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma when I was three years old. As cancer treatment was in its infancy, we travelled to Rochester, Minnesota, and lived temporarily at the Mayo Clinic. This experience exposed me to nursing and the healthcare environment. You could say that it was an influential piece of my childhood. Thankfully, the treatments that my mother received were successful! In primary school, when each child was asked about what they wanted to be when they grew up, I ALWAYS answered, “I want to be a NURSE!”

What is your favorite part of being a nurse?

While I thoroughly enjoyed making a difference in my patients’ and families’ lives, I genuinely enjoyed the adrenaline rush, pace, and technology overload of intensive care units. Learning how technology interlaced with patient care was very educational for me. I started my nursing career in the burn ICU at Columbia St. Mary’s in Milwaukee. While this is not the type of care environment that most nurses enthusiastically consider, it was the perfect place for me! I had the opportunity to experience every type of nursing in one place, making every day different. I was exposed to ICU, oncology, labor and delivery, psychology, surgery, long-term care, respiratory care, pediatrics, and much more. The burn ICU environment truly allowed me to engage with my patients and families in a way that most nurses never experience. My patients were with us for months, and in a couple of cases, over a year. Each of my patients and families are still with me to this day and influence the day-to-day decisions I make.

As a nurse, what made you interested in working at Spok, and how is the work you’re doing important to the nursing profession?

Communication is essential to human life, regardless of what you do or where you work. In nursing, information is a vital lifeline. Spok ensures that the right information gets in the hands of decision-makers when patients’ lives are at stake.

I have worked in the medical industry for many years and was often frustrated with the inability to solve or address clinical needs in a prompt manner. At Spok, agile release cycles translate into necessary clinical features being implemented quickly and made available to support caregivers as soon as possible. Spok also recognizes the importance of having a clinical voice in product development and marketing. Clinical guidance will help to translate complex customer workflows and/or requests to ensure that our technology solves problems. The solution-based rigor of iterative development means that we can respond to customers’ needs faster.

What would you say to other nurses about the importance of the work they’re doing, especially as we face the ongoing threat of COVID-19? 

Our nursing knowledge and skills are put to the test every day. Nurses are trained to handle the burden of an emergency, catastrophe, or pandemic (although, most healthcare professionals never thought it possible). Now with technology, the curtain has opened slightly for all to understand the power of what we do. Nursing is a varied profession with each one of us contributing in a unique manner. Regardless of how you practice, each of us sustains life. We are all essential!

Do you have any inspiration or advice to share with other nurses as we celebrate Year of the Nurse? 

Nursing is NOT a job; it is a career! Nursing will take you places that you never thought possible. You will experience the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, but understand each experience will shape you. Every day you “show up” changes or saves a life. Nursing is everywhere. Celebrate it and be proud of all you have accomplished and everything you do. Nursing is essential; yet what we do is often missed or overlooked by the untrained eye. However, for the people you touch, you will forever be in their minds.