Mother’s Day, which is in the middle of this year’s National Nurses Week, have many people thinking of the ways in which their mothers influenced their lives. Kimberly Antonio ’08 BSN, can thank her mother for her career. But it wasn’t always that way.
Antonio started her career as a certified athletic trainer; her last job was with women’s intercollegiate sports at UCLA, which she left in 2005. “In real life that probably wasn’t something I wanted to continue doing for the next 20 years,” she says. “I worked with college athletes, which I really enjoyed, but it was difficult to work six or seven days a week when I had children.”
Antonio comes from a family of nurses, and her mother had always encouraged her to get into the field, but Antonio harbored a bit of adolescent rebellion at the thought. “Nursing was just something I didn’t want to do or to follow because I knew she did it,” she admits, “and I wanted to do something different. My mom was a NICU nurse, and she loved her job, but she worked a lot, worked all different shifts.”
The prospect of working with babies really scared Antonio as well. “I just remember the babies,” she says. “Babies that were so fragile, who were ill, who weighed just one pound when they were delivered. My mother would care for a baby for six months until they were better, and I thought that was so scary, so I never really went that route.”
Antonio explored her options, including nursing, and finally realized that she could work with other patient populations than babies and in specialty units. The idea of the accelerated program at the Mount appealed to her, as did the school’s reputation and proximity to her home. “I had a good group of classmates; we got through this all together,” Antonio says. “You couldn’t do it by yourself. I think that if you try to do it by yourself, you would fail, because you’re tired and exhausted.”
Following graduation, Antonio worked in the telemetry unit at Kaiser Permanente Panorama City. Patients In the telemetry unit are often in critical condition and need constant monitoring and care, and telemetry nurses review data from special equipment to track a patient's vital signs.
After several years, a position opened up for experienced nurses but those new to the OR [operating room], and Antonio worked there until the outbreak of the coronavirus called on Antonio to once again lean on her ability to switch gears.
In March, the hospital stopped all elective surgeries and many of the OR staff was reassigned to different parts of hospital. “It was interesting, because they moved me to work back on the floor in case we had a surge,” she explains. “It has allowed me to actually venture into different areas. You realize again that nursing is nursing anywhere. An RN is an RN, and our basic skills are the same.
“I liked (being moved around); there are some people who were resistant. But I like to keep my eyes open, and I want to be a team player. I want to work where I needed to go. This is a time where we don’t know what is going to happen. I was thankful to be working, but it was also scary, because with COVID, there are a lot of unknowns and there are a lot of changes, almost daily. I think that we’ve done a very good job of expecting the surge. We didn’t receive the numbers (of patients) that we had expected, thank goodness, but we were going to be ready for it if it came.”
Antonio says that there are few negatives to being a nurse. She treasures the camaraderie between nurses. “We seem to be very similar and have similar traits,” Antonio says. “We’re driven, motivated, flexible, and hardworking. You find a lot of good friends, ones who truly care about the patient and being their advocate.”
She laughs when she thinks of the rebellious streak that made her run as far away from nursing as she could. “I went full circle, not wanting to do what my mom did, and here I am doing nursing,” Antonio says. “Moms always know best. She guided me through school and when it was difficult, she always said ‘Keep going, I know you want to stop, but it’s all worth it in the end.’” It’s easy to conclude that, finally, the daughter couldn’t agree more.