by Jason P. Smith
Alison Zucco, a registered nurse at the Peripheral Vascular Services Center at St. Anthony’s Central in Denver, said she always had a desire to go into the medical field on some level, but wasn’t sure exactly what would be the best fit for her. After making a move out to Colorado from Florida, it seems as though Zucco has found a niche at St. Anthony’s that will be both rewarding and challenging for a long time to come.
"I don’t have a specific memory," Zucco said when asked what made her go into the medical field. "I just knew I wanted to do something in the medical field, but I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go. So, I chose nursing as a way to get my feet in the door and look at all the aspects of the medical field and see where I could take it."
Earning her degree in nursing from Broward Community College in Broward County Florida, Zucco then worked for three years in Florida on a step-down/telemetry unit at Boca Raton Community Hospital, something she said was quite different from where she works now.
While living and working in Florida, Zucco came out to Colorado to ski for the first time on vacation. After that, she knew where she needed to be.
"I came out here because I wanted to ski," she said. "I skied at Breckenridge in February and loved it. By May I had an interview and by July I was here.
That was five years ago, and she hasn’t looked back.
St. Anthony’s is a completely different hospital than the one she came from in Florida, and she said one of the biggest challenges of her work now is not knowing what will come next. However, this also is one of the exciting and rewarding aspects of her job as well.
"Not knowing, on a daily basis, what you’re going to run into and what you might have to do to help someone, especially in a trauma hospital, can be a challenge, but I like it."
As far as her work at St. Anthony’s, Zucco has plenty of responsibility to keep her busy. "Patient care is a huge part of what I do here," she said. "We take care of lots of trauma patients. I also help run the department and coordinate the schedule with CAT scans, let the doctors know where to go next and who the patients are and the patients’ needs.
"I work to maintain a rapport with other departments we have to work with on a regular basis as well; I make sure things get expedited and triage the way things need to be done in order of importance."
In addition to all of her responsibilities, Zucco also does a lot of education – both for patients as well as within the department, helping precept new nurses in the department.
Working with trauma patients, there is no way to predict when someone will come into the hospital, and many times it’s not during regular business hours. Although that may seem a tough call to answer, Zucco enjoys the challenge.
"Along with the challenges, such as being called in at all hours of the night, comes the reward of driving home after being called in at two in the morning knowing you’ve kept someone either from going to surgery or, most importantly, alive," she said. "Knowing that you’ve helped a patient and their family is really rewarding.
"I really like the challenges of this job. I like that I learn something new every day," she said. "I also love the people that I work with. We’re really close – we’re like a family. Because our department is so small, we’re really close.
"I’ve been here five years and still have no family out here. I’ve stayed so long because of this job and what it means to me," Zucco said.
With no family out here in Colorado, Zucco has become very close with the nurses, doctors and techs who work in her department. "I consider my friends out here my ‘new’ family," she said. "We can count on each other, and we know each other too well – too quickly too well.
"I don’t know what my future plans are. I have no plans to leave this department or this hospital in the near future. I still have a lot to learn here and I look forward to learning it with everyone I work with, including the doctors – I’ll be here for a while."