88 | www. Char l es tonPhys i c i ans . com | www.Hea l thL i nksChar l es ton . com CAYLA HENNESSEY, BSN, RN For Cayla Hennessey, the medical field has been an interest of hers from a very young age. “My dad was a veterinarian, so I grew up assisting in surgeries and attending emergency calls with him,” she said. She became a lifeguard in college and then went on to pursue a career in emergency medicine. Today she works in the Emergency Department at Trident Medical Center. “Having the opportunity to subdue fear and panic and care for people in their worst moments is what drives my passion,” she said. Hennessey is currently pursuing a doctor of nursing practice degree from the Medical University of South Carolina. Her advice to aspiring nurses: “Being a nurse will open your eyes to the beauty and heartbreak of the human experience. There will be difficult days, so remember to look for the beauty, because that is what makes this career so rewarding.” She added, “And don’t forget to always keep a spare set of scrubs in your car.” KAREN RUPP, BSN, RN Retiring after 27 years of active duty service in the Air Force, Karen Rupp knew she enjoyed caring for people. Al- though she didn’t work in health care in the military, she had several opportunities during deployments to augment medical staff during surges in operations in the Middle East. In fact, her deployment to Balad Air Base in Iraq is what first piqued her interest in nursing. It was there that she assisted medical staff in caring for military and civilian per - sonnel who were injured from roadside bombs and small arms fire. Little did she know, those opportunities would play such a large part in her decision more than 10 years later. Aside from her experiences during deployments, Karen was also drawn to nursing as she cared for her mother over the last several years. “I admired the nurses, both at the hospital and in home health, who cared for my mom. I could sense their passion and commitment,” she said, admitting that it was the compassion they showed her mom that helped her decide on nursing as her next career. After an intense 16-month nursing program, she now works at the MUSC Adult Emergency Department. T H E P U L S E O N CHARLESTON NURSES LATOYA MULLINS, RN, BSN While attending school at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Latoya Mullins volunteered at UNC Hospitals and was afforded the opportunity to observe various roles in health care. “I decided nursing was for me,” she reflected. Once she obtained her psychology degree from UNC, she moved back home and got a job as a patient care tech- nician on the pediatric intensive care step-down unit at the Medical University of South Carolina. “Having a role in pediatric health care further confirmed that I was in the right place,” she noted. Mullins worked through nursing school in the PICU and was later offered a job on that same unit. She now works in the PICU at the Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital. Her advice to aspiring nurses: “Nursing isn't for the faint of heart. In the midst of rough times on whatever unit (or specialty) you end up on, take a step back at the end of your shift and remember why you're doing this. Your reason for choosing nursing most likely isn't for the pay or for the lack of stress. It's probably for the patients and making a difference in their care. Always remember the bigger picture.” Most importantly, she added, “Try your hardest to create a healthy relationship with your work life and personal life. If you don't take care of yourself, you can't be your best self when caring for others.” HealthLinks Charleston wants to recognize nurses as the backbone of our medical community and thank them for all their efforts!