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Nurses Find Belonging, Inspiration at Rady Children's

Not many people come home from work knowing they’ve made an impact on a person’s life. But at Rady Children’s Hospital, it’s an everyday feeling. Rady Children’s is supported by 1,500 nurses who help care for more than 280,000 patients each year. Although the diverse team members come from all walks of life and from all around the world, they share a common passion: Giving the best care to young patients.

Are you interested in a nursing career at Rady Children’s? Check out our open nursing jobs, here.

Robbie Dodson joined Rady Children’s after working as an EMT. He says he was encouraged by his wife, who also works at the Hospital, because he’s great with kids. “It was an easy choice to become a nurse—it just brings me a lot of joy,” Dodson says. “From day one working at Rady Children’s, it’s been the best experience of my life.” Dodson, who joined the Hospital in December 2021, says he’s thankful to be able to support patients and their families. “These kids have taught me that I love being at a pediatric hospital,” Dodson says. “I feel thankful to be
here every single day.”

Like Dodson, nurse Valentine Aljabi came to Rady Children’s after working with adults. She joined the Hospital because she wanted to make a difference in the life of a child. “Kids are not mini adults,” Aljabi says. “They are their own— they are resilient.” Although Aljabi was an experienced nurse when she joined Rady Children’s, she had the support of various educational programs that helped her transition to working with young patients. “Our educators guide you and allow you to learn about different patient experiences and challenges,” Aljabi says. “The leadership team is very involved in the program, making the transition [from adults to children] smooth.”

Nurse Frank Sturniolo is a proud member of that education team who helps others find success at Rady Children’s. He became a nurse two decades ago after being a firefighter. Although he was accustomed to working under stressful situations, he says he quickly learned that working with children required other skills. “Rady Children’s took me under its wing and taught me
how to assess a pediatric patient and how to care for them, says Sturniolo, who noted that investment was what brought him to the education team. Pediatric nurses learn about the developmental stages of a child and how childhood injuries and illnesses typically vary from adults. Despite the challenges this can pose, Sturniolo says he loves his work. “When you’re working with kids, your compassion goes up a couple of notches,” he says. “And when they walk out better than when they came in, it gives me the feeling that I did something of value today.”

For these nurses, the desire to help young patients is what drove them to a career at Rady, but the Hospital’s culture is what prompted them to stay. It’s not just their work that’s valued at
the Hospital, it’s their ideas.

“When I came here, I knew that I was a part of a team where I could say what I was thinking and feeling,” Dodson says. “I felt valued by the doctors, staff and management because we are all here for the same goal, to get these kids better so they can be home with their families.” Dodson describes Rady Children’s as a “teaching hospital,” where employees are continually learning from one another. In fact, specialty doctors from throughout the Hospital host educational sessions with staff. Aljabi says there are several committees nurses can join. For example, there’s a Recognition Committee where members are tasked with highlighting fellow employees’ accomplishments.

“The Hospital can be a very stressful environment, so having the support of peers and acknowledging the work of these nurses is nice,” Aljabi says. Sturniolo says the Hospital also has a “Wellness Wednesday,” when employees are encouraged to go to its healing garden to unwind. “You can take a moment for yourself to get a cookie, get a drink or touch a therapy dog,” Sturniolo says. “It’s just a moment to break away from what you’re doing.”

For nurses who want to advance their careers, there are plenty of opportunities to do so. In fact, Rady Children’s reimburses employees who must pay for certain certifications.

“One thing we encourage all nurses to do is become certified in pediatric emergencies,” Sturniolo says. “The Hospital will do tuition reimbursement, which is what I am taking advantage of right now to up my education game.”

It’s the educational opportunities and positive culture that allow Rady Children’s nurses to offer the best care to the county’s youngest patients.

“I think about these kids all the time—seeing them walk out of the Hospital in the best of health is the best feeling in the whole world,” Dodson says. “To know you were a part of that is
something to be thankful for.”

For more information on nursing employment opportunities at Rady Children’s, visit jobs.rchsd.org.