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Featured Employee: Marin Koka, PharmD

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Marin Koka, PharmD
Pharmacist
Iowa Methodist Medical Center, Des Moines

Why did you choose this as your career? I have always been interested in pharmacotherapy and how it affects the ways our bodies function.  I was initially exposed to the profession approximately 15 years ago when my wife and I were both serving in the military.  At that time, she worked as a pharmacy technician and I was training to work as a physical therapy assistant.  When we were done with our military service, I decided to go back to school and, ever since, pharmacy has become a “family thing.”

What are the challenges and rewards you experience in your work? I primarily work in critical care and telemetry floors.  Patient care in these areas can be extremely demanding in various aspects, and each treatment plan has its own set of unique challenges and obstacles.  One of the greatest feelings I experience is seeing that same patient who, a few days ago we were literally struggling to keep alive, get better, move out to another step-down floor or go home.  This is the best reward that I can get.  It is also great when you get to see the training you receive on a daily basis and the hard work you put into the care you provide for your patients pay off.  Also, being able to participate in various committees and having the opportunity to work alongside other healthcare professionals to improve on a broad range of policies and processes to better provide the best quality of care is definitely very rewarding for my career.

What are your plans for the future? Continuing to become more involved in the areas where I currently practice as well as be able to gain more knowledge in nutrition support, cardiology and infectious diseases areas.

How has the hospital supported your career? Iowa Health-Des Moines has supported my career by giving me the opportunity to practice in those areas that I am more interested in, providing me with the opportunity to participate in various hospital groups and by continuously providing support for my training and education.

More about Marin Koka:

Education: Drake University (Doctor of Pharmacy)

Years with hospital: 9

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Rebecca Burns, RN
Inpatient Director
Horn Memorial Hospital, Ida Grove

Why did you choose this as your career? Nursing offers numerous career paths.  I graduated with a diploma in nursing.  I never thought I would venture away from bedside care and therefore saw no need to further my education.  Several years ago I decided I wanted to have more influence in changing nursing practice so I went back to school to get my bachelor’s degree.  I like the flexibility of specialty, location and hours.

What are the challenges and rewards you experience in your work?  Managing people is the biggest challenge.  It is also the biggest reward.  It is a wonderful feeling to have staff come together as a team and achieve a difficult task.

What are your plans for the future?  I want to be a positive role model and change agent for the department of nursing.  I am committed to Horn Memorial Hospital, so whatever the future holds I’m sure it will involve Horn Memorial.

How has the hospital supported your career?  Administration is supportive of continuing one’s education.  I received tuition assistance to return to school for my bachelor’s degree and the hospital is willing to work around school schedules.

More about Rebecca Burns:

Education: Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing

Years with hospital: 13

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Don Wheeler
Maintenance Technician
Mahaska Health Partnership, Oskaloosa

Why did you choose this as your career? I enjoy the variety of jobs I get to do, great benefits and the job security I have at Mahaska Health Partnership (MHP). I also feel like there is a good opportunity for advancement.

What are the challenges and rewards you experience in your work? As with everything, sometimes certain jobs, such as lawn care, cannot be given the amount of attention I would like due to other priority projects. However, I work with and for a great organization and I am happy to work with so many people focused on delivering such a high standard of care.

What are your plans for the future? I plan to take some classes so that when an advancement opportunity is available, I would be qualified to apply for it.

How has the hospital supported your career? Given the opportunities I have available to me and the great working environment, I feel MHP has allowed me to find a career I can enjoy with an organization I plan to retire from.

More about Don Wheeler

Education: One year of college

Years with hospital: Three years

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Janet Norin, RN
Clinical Informatics Specialist
Trinity Bettendorf

Why did you choose this as your career?  I wanted to be a nurse since I was a little girl. I started out as a candy striper with the Red Cross and loved it.

What are the challenges and rewards you experience in your work? In my role as staffing coordinator I have challenges everyday as I assist units with afternoon/evening staffing issues and also help bed control place patients in the most appropriate setting given their diagnosis.  My reward is that the patient gets the best outcome, every day, every time with adequate staffing.

What are your plans for the future? Retirement, of course, but I am too young.  Even though I already have more than 30 years in nursing, I will continue to work for several more years.

How has the hospital supported your career? Trinity has been very supportive monetarily and with flexible scheduling while I obtained my BSN through Trinity College of Nursing and when I received my OCN certification.  I am proud to be a Trinity employee!

About Janet Norin

Education: Lutheran Hospital School for Nurses and bachelor of science degree in nursing from Trinity College of Nursing & Heath Sciences

Years with hospital: 32 years

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Mary Jo Clark
ER/Trauma Coordinator
Floyd Valley Hospital, Le Mars

Why did you choose this as your career? When I was 14 years old I saw a segment on the news about the intensive care unit of a nursery and I just knew that was I wanted to do when I grew up.

What are the challenges and rewards you experience in your work?  The challenges are meeting the varying needs of the patients from newborns to geriatrics.  Some patients come in with no medical knowledge and some with too much, some have an uncomplicated complaint and some have you baffled, and some have no money or resources and some have unlimited yet you need to treat them all the same. The rewards are being able to help the patient, solving their problems or getting to a specialist who can.  I work in ER so I like seeing the unusual like people nailing their hand to the board, kids putting rocks in their nose, etc.

What are your plans for the future? I see myself being in this position for a long time.   I would like to get my master’s degree and information technology is something that interests me and I may explore that in the future.

How has the hospital supported your career? I started here as a new graduate on the floor and they encouraged me to move up to first a charge nurse then nursing supervisor and now this position.  Along the way I got married and have three active children and they have really worked with me so that my schedule would not conflict with family demands for which I am very grateful.

More About Mary Jo Clark

Education: Bachelor of science in nursing from Morningside College

Years with hospital: 16 years

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