To be a health care provider is to answer a calling. For some, the journey to health care is a straight line; for others, the road is winding. This series features stories from ECU Health team members who took the winding road, but found the destination to be worth the effort.

Virginia native Suzanne Foster moved to New Bern in 2007 because of her husband’s work; at the time, she served as an operations manager in sales and marketing for a small internet company. “We primarily did financing for military and government employees,” Foster said. When her father became terminally ill, she found herself as his primary caregiver when he transitioned to hospice.

“Taking care of him through hospice was very eye opening,” she said. “It made me realize that my job didn’t really matter. What mattered was taking care of him.”

It was then Foster realized she wanted to become a nurse. Her brother, who had just been accepted to medical school, also supported her shift in priorities. “He said, ‘This is what you need to do,’ and it turns out he was right.”

Suzanne attended Craven Community College, and now she’s been a nurse for nearly eight years. Recently, she found herself drawn to work as a travel nurse, which is what brought her to ECU Health*. “I wanted to try travel nursing and experience other facilities, but I have a husband and a son I dearly love and don’t want to be away from,” Foster said. That’s what made a travel position at ECU Health Medical Center a perfect fit, even if it was something she was initially apprehensive about.

“I had always been at one little hospital,” Foster said. “It was intimidating coming to a larger hospital like the medical center.” But one of Foster’s friends assured her she’d love it. “And she was right, the staff on the Medical ICU where I work is incredible.”

The Medical ICU was the right fit, Foster said, “because it’s kind of a hodgepodge or catch-all. You get to do the MacGyver stuff because we catch everything that requires intensive care and not just strokes or heart attacks.”

She also enjoyed that the medical center was a teaching hospital, something she had not previously experienced.

“Where I worked before, we had four or five regular intensivists, and I could pretty much anticipate a plan of care from that rotating group,” she explained. “Now I get to experience a teaching hospital, which has been eye opening. I get to take care of patients with residents – medical students – and it’s fun because they want to learn. The difference between working in a small hospital and a teaching hospital has taken a little adjustment, but it’s been a lot of fun and exciting.”

Foster had nothing but great things to say about her transition to nursing and her travel nursing experience at ECU Health.

“I absolutely recommend it,” she said. “Whenever friends say they’re really thinking about nursing, I tell them the medical center is a wonderful facility. You get to be at the bedside and have fun, and you work with awesome nurses with impressive skill sets.”

Ultimately, her transition to nursing has allowed her to do what she feels is important: take care of people.

*Suzanne Foster worked as a travel nurse at ECU Health Medical Center from October 24, 2022 to October 21, 2023.