When deciding her future after high school, Aubrie Stuckey, MSN, ARNP, had a simple career plan. She was going to become an accountant. “I wasn’t very happy about it. My dad was an accountant. So, when I was trying to figure out ‘what am I going to do?’ I just kind of went with that, because that’s all I knew, and it made the most sense,” Stuckey said.
Feeling as though she had sentenced herself to a life of mathematics, she took one last chance at a different career path and received her CNA her senior year of high school. From then on, she knew she wanted to be a nurse. “I just know I didn’t want to be stuck behind a desk all day,” Stuckey said.
As a nurse practitioner in the Respiratory Specialty and Comprehensive Care Unit (RSCCU), Stuckey knows the career path she chose, which consists of 12-hour shifts and 24 patients to tend to at all times, can be challenging. However, she believes the reward is worth it. “Some of [the patients] come back months later after going to a nursing home and come back walking when they couldn’t even attempt it before,” Stuckey said. “Being able to see that kind of recovery reassures you about what you’re doing this for. People do get better and good things happen because of what you do here.”
Stuckey grew up on the eastern edge of Iowa in Maquoketa. With her grandparents living only a short drive away in Dubuque, Stuckey grew up surrounded by her family, and working at the University of Iowa allows her to stay close to them. When she is not taking care of patients, Stuckey spends her free time cooking, staying active, and preparing for the birth of her son, who is expected to arrive in March.
Six and a half years after graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Iowa, Stuckey still feels like she is a student every day in the RSCCU. With eleven- to twelve-hour shifts four days a week, Stuckey is one diligent student. “I like the fact that it’s a teaching hospital. I don’t have anything else to compare it to, but I really like the physicians, and everyone takes the time to explain things. It’s a really good learning environment to be able to just really grow,” Stuckey said.
Stuckey has been a dedicated member of the University of Iowa since 2009. While attending Allen College to receive her Master of Science in Nursing and training to become an Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, Stuckey worked as a Registered Nurse in the University of Iowa’s Cardiothoracic Surgery Unit.
“I didn’t take a break. Looking back, I’m glad that I didn’t. I think it would have been harder for me to continue going if I would have taken a few years off,” Stuckey said about her years of education. In the RSCCU, Stuckey works with two other nurse practitioners and a physician to tend to 24 beds and the Palliative Care Unit. “I don’t remember the last time that we haven’t had a full unit. Sometimes I feel like people try to get their patients to our unit just because they know they’ll be well taken care of. Our nurses are really good at patient care and making sure that the right things get done,” Stuckey said, mentioning one colleague who has taught her everything she knows about acute care.
Stuckey’s coworker Brian Wayson, ARNP, views her as a valuable team player in the RSCCU. “She’s a really hard worker. She gets up earlier than I do!” Wayson said.
Wayson was there when Stuckey first joined the RSCCU, only six months after she finished graduate school. While completely new to the world of acute care, Wayson described the newly hired Stuckey as extremely sharp and adaptable to any challenge. “She was initially pretty shy, but now she fits right in. We work well as a team,” Wayson said of Stuckey. “She tries to help any way she can.”
Additionally, Stuckey’s nursing background in Cardiology has helped her connect to her patients. “We have some fairly sick folks. We’ve had a lot of those guys who she’s been with for years when she was a nurse, so she’s got a good rapport with them,” Wayson said. “When you have a life-threatening illness, it’s really good to have someone in your corner.”
Above all, the most important thing Stuckey has learned from her time at the University of Iowa is to value her patients. “I think it’s a really important as far as being a provider goes to really listen to the patient and remember that they are a person too. I think sometimes we get stuck behind a computer just looking at numbers and statistics, but we have to remember they are also a person. It’s important to have conversations with your patients and not just treat them,” she said.