Alumni Profile: Lena Crossman C'08
Growing up, Lena Crossman C’08 admired the way her mother attended to the needs of other people. When it came time to choose a career, she realized nursing would fill her own desire to serve others. “Nursing is an awesome combination of science, knowledge, using your heart, being compassionate, and putting someone else’s needs first,” she said.
Lena now works as a patient care operations manager at the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, where she manages the nursing staff and ensures the delivery of care on the neuroscience and endocrine floor meets state requirements. She also focuses on the patient and family experience by meeting every family that comes to her floor for care, trying to provide a positive experience during a difficult time.
She describes her interest in working with children like a light bulb that went off during one of her clinical rotations as a North Park nursing student. “I have a heart for children and for the voiceless, and children are extremely vulnerable,” she said. “One of the things you learn is that you’re your patient’s advocate. I felt passionate about doing that for children. A lot of children we see don’t have family at their bedside.”
Lena came to North Park because she wanted to live in Chicago and felt the school offered a small community in a big city. This translated to the nursing program, where she liked the small class sizes, individual attention, and clinical sites at top hospitals. Her pediatrics rotation was at Lurie Children's (then called Children’s Memorial Hospital). Encouraged by faculty to pursue opportunities that related to career interests, Lena became a student nursing assistant at the hospital during her senior year and was hired as a nurse after graduation.
Faculty influenced her in other ways as well. She felt Dr. Linda Duncan was truly invested in her education and always provided the latest news and research about nursing and health care in general. Dr. Karla Fogel taught her how to be compassionate and have a good bedside manner. “It’s an honor to take care of people in their most vulnerable state,” Lena said. “Your attitude matters because it affects your patient’s well being.”
Lena also chose North Park for its Christian focus and continues to find ways to serve others. In February, she traveled to Haiti with a group of about 30 health care professionals who saw up to 600 people a day, providing basic medical care in the mountain villages of a country devastated by an earthquake in 2010. “For us, the mission was about spreading the love of Christ and giving people hope because you know they aren’t going to get all the medical care they need,” said Lena, who plans to return 3 to 4 times each year.
While her work in Haiti, as well as what she does on a day-to-day basis as a nurse, can be hard and emotional, Lena does not find it to be a struggle. “Everyone has an area that they are called to work in,” she said. “For me, it fits.”