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ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: Ready to Take Flight

Lisa Jelinek
Lisa Jelinek

While attending UI’s College of Nursing, it didn’t take long for Lisa Jelinek to discover that she had a zest for the fast-paced world of the ER.

Jelinek (BSN ’02) works as an Emergency Department nurse at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, and as a fixed wing flight nurse for Mayo Clinic’s Medical Transport unit. She recently touched down and took time to talk about her undergrad experience at Iowa, her current area of practice, as well as her future plans and aspirations.

Describe the moment you knew you wanted to be a nurse? 
I can't really remember one defining moment. I pretty much felt like I wanted to be a nurse my whole life. As a kid, I think I dressed up as a nurse for trick-or-treating at least six times!

Why did you choose the University of Iowa to pursue your education?
I looked at several smaller schools first, but when I went to visit Iowa it just felt like home. I also knew the nursing program was prestigious, the campus was beautiful, and it wasn't too far from home.

What do you remember most about your time as a UI College of Nursing student?
I have so many memories from nursing school, but some definite highlights would include how excited I was to give my first injection (to an orange); spiking an IV bag; and taking a manual blood pressure. Now that I look back, it's funny to think how these day-to-day activities were so monumental. I also really enjoyed Saturday football games. This was a great way to de-stress with friends and show our pride in the University of Iowa. Go Hawks!

Was there a particular class or instructor that stood out?
I absolutely loved my senior-year internship. I had the opportunity to be in the Emergency Department at St. Luke's in Cedar Rapids. My preceptor was a flight nurse, and this really opened my eyes to that area of nursing. (Before then I didn't even know what a flight nurse was.) As I discovered this whole new area of practice, I realized that flight nursing would allow me to take care of critical patients, but with even more autonomy.

When you first enrolled at Iowa, did you know what you wanted to do with your degree?
I knew right away I wanted to be in critical care or an emergency department. I loved the fast pace and the need to think and react quickly.

Do you believe your educational experience at UI enhanced your preparation for entering the profession?
Absolutely. The University of Iowa has been nationally recognized as an outstanding nursing program; being affiliated with such a strong school created many opportunities for me. I'm also starting to get into more research activities and I feel like my education at Iowa definitely helped me to prepare for that.

How has the nursing profession changed the most over the course of your career?
I think advanced practice degrees are becoming more of an expectation than an exception. I also think more people are entering the nursing profession as a second career. Many of my colleagues had previous professional occupations, but they realized all the great opportunities nursing has to offer.

How else are you involved in the nursing profession?
I belong to the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) and attend many regional and national conferences. I'm also heavily involved with several committees at work, including the Trauma Center Research Committee and the Emergency Department Trauma Committee.

What words of advice would you give to current or future nursing students?
Don't ever pretend to know everything, because you don't … no one does! And this is when you make mistakes. Ask for help; ask lots of questions; and don't ever stop learning!

What’s next (personally or professionally) for Lisa Jelinek?
I recently submitted my first article for publication. I'd like to increase my proficiency in this process and continue presenting at regional and national conferences. I think an advanced degree will also be in my future. I’m also very excited to announce that I just accepted a new job as a full-time rotor wing nurse on Mayo One (Mayo Clinic’s emergency medical helicopter service).

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Posted On: 
Oct 3rd, 2013