Heidi-HeiferHeidi Hafer's peers say her determination makes her a force to be reckoned with.

"Few others are able to match her skills in personal communication and support for patients," says Amanda Halls, a patient care associate who works with Heidi at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

"She has on more than one occasion stayed late in order to ensure that a patient received the bath they had earlier declined or a walk they were initially not feeling well enough to do.

"Her job is not merely a list of tasks, but rather a mission she feels honored to be part of."

Little wonder Heidi was nominated for and earned an Excellence in Service Award.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I have a bachelor's degree in nutritional science, I am a certified phlebotomist and currently a graduate-entry student to become an adult gerontology nurse practitioner.

I have a lot of experience in customer service and health care. I began work as a telerecruiter at a blood bank. It was a great job during college, because it taught me how donating blood can make a huge difference for patients in the hospital. Then I moved to working as a home caregiver, which was great. I cherish all the people I met and cared for there. After that, I worked as a phlebotomist and drew blood on thousands of patients. It was an intimidating job when I started but very rewarding as I honed my skills.

Working as a patient care associate has given me a lot of time to get to know patients and continue to work to give them compassionate care. It has been a great learning experience and humbling.

Where are you from originally and what led you to Ohio State?

I grew up in a small town in Nevada called Goldfield and went to college in Reno. Small-town life was good; I felt like I had a lot of freedom to be myself there. After living in Chicago, I joined Ohio State to get out of a large city and move closer to family.

Where do you work and what type of patients do you work with?

I work on the fifth floor of the Ross Heart Hospital, where we care for step-down open heart surgery patients, thoracic surgeries and peripheral vascular patients.

What drew you to the field?

I was mainly looking for PCA experience for school and this job fit what I was looking for. I really do enjoy caregiving, and this job has provided me with the opportunity to continue enjoying that role.

We're told you maintain an open mind regarding your patients. What advice can you offer others on that topic?

I would recommend that you talk to patients more, find out what they like to be called and a bit about them. Do not identify them as room numbers. When you put a name to a room instead of a number, it helps you to be more empathetic.

What's the most challenging part of your job?

The ability to juggle a number of tasks at the same time.

What's the most rewarding part of your job?

Getting to meet a lot of great people and watching them gradually get better and leave the hospital.

Determination is a word we see associated with you. How do you think you embody that quality?

Even when I get discouraged, I keep trying to do a good job.

What else should we know about you?

I have a strong faith in Christ, and I try to use those principles in the care I provide. My faith leads me daily and helps me to step back when I may be looking at situations the wrong way.

Thank you, Heidi, for improving people's lives!

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