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I am Penn State Health: Tara Gardner

Tara Gardner is a fan of change.

Her days as a nurse manager in the Adult Intensive Care and Progressive Care units at Penn State Health Holy Spirit Medical Center twist and turn. One moment, she’s making rounds, checking on the nurses on her team and attending staff meetings. In the next, all the rooms have filled, and she’s doing her favorite part of the job―seeing patients.

Gardner shares what she loves about her job at Holy Spirit Medical Center, where she’s worked ever since she landed a nurse externship there in 2008:

How did you first get interested in nursing?

Ever since I can remember, I’ve been interested in the health care field. I decided on nursing―my second undergrad degree―after talking with a good friend who was enrolled in a nursing program in college. She told me how much she enjoyed the profession, which was not only personally fulfilling, because you get to help people, but also challenging academically. The nursing career field is very diverse, bringing many different opportunities for continued learning.

What’s the biggest challenge?

I think the biggest challenge―but also what I love about nursing―is that it’s always changing. Even during a typical day taking care of patients at their bedsides, you never know what’s going to happen or what patient is going to come in next. Technology is continuously advancing, and each provider practices differently, so there’s something new to learn every single day.

What makes Penn State Health a good place for nurses to work?

Penn State Health provides advanced, high-quality care to our patients. There are a lot of wonderful opportunities for growth, professional development and advancement for our employees. Penn State Health is also growing, which is awesome to see, since that means we’re serving our communities better.

What makes you most proud of working here?

I love Holy Spirit! I’ve spent my entire nursing career here and have no intention of leaving. The people and the culture are special – something that’s very hard to find. The hospital is like a second family to me. I think our patients see that, too, in how we treat them and how we treat each other.

What do you do to unwind?

I try to disconnect from technology and just spend time with my family. I have a 6-year-old son, an 8-year-old daughter and two dogs. I also like to run, which has been a great stress reliever for me.

When you’re mentoring a new nurse, what’s the first lesson on day one?

Be patient with yourself. Nursing is a profession of lifelong learning. We’re a team, and we’re all here for the same reason―to take exceptional care of patients.

A woman in a surgical mask stands at a nurse’s station in a hospital hallway and speaks with another woman in a surgical mask who is seated there.

Tara Gardner, left, talks with Lea Dailey, a registered nurse, during morning rounds.

Nursing Opportunities

Penn State Health has opportunities for compassionate, skilled nurses like Gardner to join these departments, among others:

  • Acute care
  • Critical care
  • Surgical services
  • Emergency Department
  • Intensive care unit – night nurses
  • Recent nurse graduates

Learn more here.

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