Although Annette Polopat has been a geriatric social worker for 20 years,
something in the back of her mind said she should become a nurse. The mother of two daughters, now 12 and 13, the thought first occurred to her after giving birth to her children. “There was no reason until then for me to have been in a hospital, but my experience at Hillcrest Hospital opened my eyes.”
With two young children, she put a major career switch on a back burner. Years later, however, Polopat still hadn’t given up on the idea. So she began classes at Huron School of Nursing to become a registered nurse, a degree program that complements her bachelor’s in social work from Kent State University. “I went back [to school] because I felt that I was connecting on a psycho-social basis but wanted to be more involved with the clinical picture. Having experience from the social work side of care allows me to better understand social and environmental issues contributing to health problems.”
Polopat’s decision to become a nurse has affected more than just her career. It has had a major impact on her family, too — especially for her husband, Frank. By helping Annette with her studies, Frank, who had worked in the construction industry for 25 years, discovered that he also had an interest in nursing. Now they both are employed at Euclid Hospital, with Frank working as a nursing assistant in patient transport. He will begin classes at Huron School of Nursing in the fall.
Polopat knows she’s been a role model for her children, too. “I’ve shown them that if they are committed, they can balance work and family and still pursue their dreams.”
She advises others who are interested in pursuing a nursing career to work in a hospital environment. “It brings everything you’re learning to life.”
Polopat, a recipient of the GCNA Graduating Senior Award, says she is “humbled by the fact that the faculty sees these qualities in me. I’m glad my feelings about nursing are reflected for others to see. I seriously believe in nursing and nurses’ contribution to health care.”