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From being a patient to working in healthcare

Dylan Pettinato

​Dylan Pettinato, 20, from Wauconda has worked hard to get a head-start on her career goals at a young age.​ Pettinato became a certified nursing assistant (CNA) at 18 and started working in a nursing home in the summer of 2022.

​“I get made fun of for being the youngest CNA at my job,” she said when asked if she meets a lot of people her age in her workforce.

​Pettinato said they don’t actually make fun of her but they call her either a child or a baby for her age. She also said most of the fellow CNA’s or nurses at her job adopt her and take her under their wing.

​“I did the homework, and I wanted to get a head-start in my career field,” she said. “CNA’s are able to work alongside many different jobs relating to helping people.”

​She started taking nursing courses at the tech campus of CLC from Mundelein High School. This gave her the ability to become a CNA at a younger age and made her more comfortable with starting at CLC. While being a CNA she mentioned ways she can learn more about different career paths for helping people. An example would be helping someone who broke their hip to therapy. Pettinato gets to sit in and help while building her knowledge.

​“I always told myself I wanted to be the nurse I never had,” she said. “I know it sounds cliché, but I like helping people, and with my history it makes sense.”

​Pettinato was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes a few months before her second birthday. She grew up in and out of hospitals because her diabetes made her immunocompromised. This gave her a weakened immune system and put her more at risk for even a common cold. She said she always thought being a nurse was a cool idea after seeing it so much as a kid.

​She recalled that in middle school the nurse almost stuck her with a glucagon when she had low blood sugar and just needed a juice box. She said this incident could’ve killed her if she didn’t stop the nurse.

​“A glucagon is for when someone’s blood sugar is so low the person is unconscious,” she said. “It prevents you from having a seizure. It’s like an Epipen for diabetics.”

​Pettinato also talked about the time she was in the hospital with pneumonia while in kindergarten. She said the nurse didn’t read her chart and hung a glucose bag which led to an IV and again could’ve killed her. She said her parents were able to catch the mistake before any damage was done.

​“I want to be an emergency room nurse in the future,” she said.

​Pettinato said she would never be able to do a desk job because she needs to be moving. She also wants a job that is hands-on and active. She said she wants to become an emergency room nurse because of all of the chaos and uncertainty that can come through the doors.

​“I don’t,” she said. “I do it poorly, especially with everything going on.”

​When asked about how she is able to balance her work, school, and personal life, she said there is much to be improved. She tries to time out her rounds so she can spend time toward the end of her shift doing homework. On the days she doesn’t work, she tries to do homework early, so she can hang out with friends or her boyfriend later in the day.

​“In a healthcare setting you have to be ready for anything,” she said. “You can’t rely on people as much as you should be able to.”

Courtesy of Creative Commons.

​She said one of the hardest parts of the job is when people don’t pull their weight in the workload. She also said you can’t rely on people to show up when they’re scheduled because people call out or call in sick. She said it was harder with patients in the beginning. However, the more she’s worked the easier it gets because you get to know their schedules and you become more familiar with them.

​“I like working with the same people, staff, and patients,” she said when asked about her favorite part of the job. “You get to form a bond so quickly in this environment, especially with the long-term patients.

​“It is close enough to home where I can still spend time with my family,” she said. “I can also spend time with my friends because most of them are going to CLC.”

​She said she is enjoying her time at CLC and is in the second semester of the nursing program. Right now she is just taking her pre-requisites and has hopes of passing the National League of Nurses (NLN). If she passes the NLN then she will become a certified nurse after three years at CLC.

​“I believe in things that have been proven by science because they can be backed up,” she said. “People are hurting other people, their children, and themselves by not believing in science.”

​When asked if people should have more faith in science, she said the point of vaccines isn’t to never get it, but it’s so your body can build up antibodies for when you do get something. She doesn’t understand people who don’t believe in science because it is one of the only things that can be proved and backed up.

​“The FDA — it’s literally their job and all of their time is spent seeing if something is safe for people,” she said.

​Pettinato doesn’t agree with judges deciding whether or not a drug is safe and said it should be up to the FDA.

​“Those who fail to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it,” she said.

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Grace Sparks
Grace Sparks, Staff Reporter
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