Med-Surg nurse finds opportunity and inspiration in 40 years of service

Kathleen Lattavo

Doing something you’re good at for 43 years may make you an expert, but doing something you love — that’s what makes you happy.

“I got into nursing because I really liked the idea of working with science and people at the same time,” says Kathleen Lattavo, Med-Surg Clinical Nurse Specialist at St. David’s Medical Center in Austin, Texas. “I really wanted to help people.”

When Lattavo began her nursing career in 1972, Med-Surg wasn’t even considered a specialty, but Lattavo knew immediately it was where she was meant to be.

“I started out in Med-Surg and liked the variety,” she says. “I liked having to use the science to understand what’s going on. It’s very challenging, and rewarding.”

Today, Lattavo does a lot of different things. She helps monitor the quality of patient care; she works with nurses, setting up orientations or offering advice; she’s in constant contact with supervisors to make sure all the patients’ clinical needs are being met. Having been at St. David’s for more than 25 years, Lattavo knows how everything works, and she’s proud of the progress the facility has made.

Med-Surg offers career growth

Professionally, Lattavo appreciates being part of an organization that leads instead of follows, from technology and treatment to its investment in its people.

“HCA and St. David’s have afforded me a lot of opportunities,” she says. “I was able to get additional training including my RN-BC in pain management and certifications in Med-Surg Nursing (CMSRN) and advanced practice (ACNS-BC). I’ve been able to work with professional organizations to advance the nursing specialty of Med-Surg. When I started, Med-Surg wasn’t even considered a specialty, and since I’ve been at St David’s, I’ve seen it evolve into a unique set of competencies and abilities.” Nursing in general has evolved, too. “Nursing is recognized more as a profession today,” she says. “In the future, I think the role will expand. I think we’ll see nurses more as managers of groups of patients from the beginning of their care to the end. And I think hospital nurses specifically will need to increase their skill level, because if someone’s in the hospital, it’s serious.“

 “I started at St. David’s in 1989, and I have remained here for many reasons,” she says. “I like the opportunity for professional growth. I like being part of a team. Since I’ve been here we’ve done a lot to improve the work environment, and we’ve provided a very safe place for our patients. And of course, what I like most are the people I work with.”