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From Bedside to Boardroom: A Nursing Journey of Advocacy and Healing

As I reflect on my nursing career spanning over two decades, I am struck by the winding path that has taken me from the serene landscapes of small-town Canada to the bustling emergency rooms of multiple cities across the USA. From the deserts of Saudi Arabia to the upper reaches of Northern BC, and now to a place I proudly call home, Olympia, WA. My journey as a nurse has been one of relentless adventure and profound growth.

For half of my life, I have stood at the bedside, nurturing the ill, empowering the frail, and holding the hands of those ready to journey beyond. Alongside some of the most incredible humans, I have experienced the chaos, the adrenaline rush, and the unparalleled teamwork that comes with working in the Emergency Department and as a Flight Nurse. In those environments, we weren't just colleagues; we were a family—a dysfunctional yet fiercely supportive family.

In March 2023, I took a leap into unknown territory and transitioned to a Public Health position. Coordinating the Child Fatality Review Team for the county sounded daunting, filled with sadness, grief, and trauma—and it is. Yet, it's also a space for healing and prevention. These review boards, often overlooked, bring together community members involved in death investigation, EMS, law enforcement, education, community outreach, and child welfare to find ways to prevent future tragedies.

Last week, after months of hard work, I was notified that I had won a grant! This funding will help establish the first Fetal and Infant Mortality Review team in Washington state. It's a significant accomplishment, but it comes with a sobering reality check. Maternal and fetal mortality rates in our country are alarmingly high, and my state is not exempt. We cannot afford to ignore these statistics any longer. It's uncomfortable, but it's where change begins—in the murkiness, the discomfort.

As a lifelong feminist, I've never shied away from speaking up against injustices, especially against women. In my current role, I have the platform and the freedom to drive real change. Whether it's advocating at the State Senate, championing policy reform, or collaborating for change, my passion for women's health and maternal care remains unwavering. While the results may not be as immediately gratifying as the ER, the impact is profound, and the need is urgent.

To those considering a career in nursing, I offer this advice: it will be the best decision you ever make. It will challenge you, break you down, and push you to your limits. But like the Phoenix rising from the ashes or the lotus blooming from the mud, you will emerge stronger, more resilient, and infinitely more compassionate.

My journey as a nurse has been anything but linear, but as I look ahead, I am filled with hope and determination. And after almost 25 years, I am stilling saying, This is Only the Beginning!

Lisa Ostler


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