A campaign of gratitude brought to you by
JNESO—the voice of healthcare professionals.
There are many reasons why people choose a particular profession: money, prestige, family expectations, passion for the field. But for some, love guides the way.
Dawn Kulach a Medical Surgical Nurse from Sicklerville, N.J., said when she was kid the idea of becoming a nurse couldn’t be further from thoughts. “My mom was a nurse and she was constantly caring for everyone. My grandmother was really sick and I had to help give her insulin shots. My sister passed away from a heart condition. I was scared to death of being in a doctor’s office, I just couldn’t handle it and it took me a long time to get over that.”
She made a good living tending bar in her 20s, but when she became a mother things changed. “I wasn’t helping people the way I thought I should be. When I had my son, I wanted to set a good example for him. To show him that life is not just about ‘you’ the true reward comes from helping others.”
So, in her 30s she enrolled in college, got her associate’s and bachelor’s degrees, became a licensed Registered Nurse (RN), and is now enrolled in a doctoral program to become a Family Nurse practitioner with an anticipated graduation date of 2022. “I want to see patients through their lifespan. There are so many things from birth to death that a family nurse practitioner can take care of. I can’t wait it is so amazing.”
Kulach has been a practicing RN for four years, she worked for a state mental health facility and a local hospital in the medical surgical, pulmonary and COVID-19 unit.
She recalled an incident with a patient that made her realize that nursing was definitely the right career choice. “I had a patient who almost died and was transferred to my unit. He couldn’t afford his diabetes medication so I worked with another nurse and the insurance company so he didn’t have to pay. When he left he thanked me and was very appreciative.” The next day she ran into the patient and his girlfriend. “I asked him if he got his medication, and he said he didn’t because he didn’t have a way to get there. So, I took him to CVS to get the medication and then drove him to the mechanic, and they cried they were so thankful.”
She revealed, “This is what it means to help people, not just in the hospital but everywhere all the time, it doesn’t stop when I clock-out.”
Kulach is an advocate, both for her patients and for her fellow nurses. Recently, she has been in the spotlight, with the support of her local nurses union JNESO, to bring attention to the shortage of personal protective equipment available to nurses to prevent exposure to COVID-19. Kulach was sent home and later lost her job for bringing her own PPE to work, an N95 mask and gloves not issued by the hospital. She refused to go back to work until the hospital allowed her and other nurses to use their own PPE, or agreed to provide them all with N95 masks.
“It is not just about me, I am trying to make it safer for all of us,” said Kulach who has been featured in the news as part of an awareness campaign to foster change. “How can I advocate for my patients if I can’t advocate for myself and my co-workers? I can always find another job, but you can’t give someone back their life.”
Does she regret her career choice? Absolutely not. “I can’t say enough about how blessed I am to have this career,” said Kulach who has truly become a stellar role model, not only for other nurses but for her 10-year old son. “I have a passion for nursing, and the biggest reward is to see my son’s smiling face. He is so supportive of my career and thinks it is the coolest thing in the world. He also knows that in life he has to work hard to get where he wants to go, and that he can do anything he sets his mind to.”