by Mark Albanese, PLU Director of Sports Communication
Pacific Lutheran University women’s golf alumna Anela Barber has traded in her clubs for scrubs.
Barber, a member of the PLU women’s golf squad from 2014-2017 and captain of her Gig Harbor High School team for two years, now suits up as a Registered Nurse on the Coronary Care Unit (CCU) at the Pulse Heart Institute of Tacoma General Hospital.
The CCU is a critical care unit geared towards caring for patients with cardiac specific issues.
“On a typical 12-hour shift, nurses on my unit can expect to help recover 3-4 patients with cardiovascular-related illnesses such as congestive heart failure, atrial fibrillation, or even heart attacks,” said Barber.
For Barber and the rest of her unit, recovering cardiovascular patients includes a mix of administering medications, providing patient education, and encouraging lifestyle modifications.
While dealing with cardiovascular patients, Barber’s job has changed significantly since the COVID-19 outbreak began.
“While my role as a nurse is to provide safe and quality care to all of my patients, my everyday practice has changed significantly since the COVID-19 outbreak. Since this virus has affected our community, staff have been faced with a limited supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep us safe during the workday. From reusing masks to flat out not having any, we have been forced to become creative as a health care team to keep each other safe from potential harm.”
A three-time Northwest Conference Scholar-Athlete Award winner and a 10th-place finisher at the 2015 NWC Championships, Barber took an unconventional path to her career as a nurse.
“Starting off as a biology major, I quickly realized that I wanted to venture into a career more closely related to the holistic care of people and consulted my adviser about switching my major. I decided at that time that my undergraduate career would be best spent studying Kinesiology. Learning how the human body can prevent, and even reverse, disease processes simply through exercise was just so fascinating to me. This is what drove me to apply to the Entry Level Master’s Program (ELMSN) at PLU to finally marry my desire to promote health and fitness as well as care for patients at the bedside.”
Barber’s experience as a student-athlete taught her the value of time management, a skill critical to her being able to effectively care for her patients. During the off-season, she worked at Chambers Bay Golf Course in nearby University Place, working loops as a caddie and staffing the on-course snack stand, where she could be seen studying between passing foursomes.
“Being a student-athlete means that you have to have great time management. Juggling schoolwork, practice, socializing time, and personal time can seem near-enough impossible but with the right tools and mindset I was able to be successful. In my current position time management is of the utmost importance. While it may be overwhelming at times, it’s all about making a game plan, sticking to it the best you can, and having the ability to adjust if need be.”
It was while at PLU that Barber first got connected to the Pulse Heart Institute at Tacoma General.
“While finishing the tail end of my Master’s program at PLU, it was a part of our final preceptorship to shadow a nurse in a role of management/leadership. A questionnaire was sent to students asking our preference regarding our preceptorship to which I mentioned my love for cardiovascular patients. I was ecstatic to see that I would be spending six months shadowing the Assistant Nurse Manager at the Pulse Heart Institute of Tacoma General. Working so closely with the staff nurses and leadership team during my preceptorship really opened my eyes to what a great team they are and I knew I just had to be a part of it too.”
While the last couple of months have been a challenge, Barber has been thankful for the outpouring of support from the community.
“I just want to say thank you to anyone and everyone that has reached out to healthcare workers during this time. Working long hours and difficult days are what we signed up for, but hearing the appreciation from the community makes it all worth it. Stay safe, stay home, and wash your hands.”
(Click here for information about other PLU student athletes.)