by James Forkan“Honors College was my family away from home. I still keep in touch and visit.”—Marie Podany ’09
Marie Podany—an Honors College nursing alumna who has been an R.N. in the cardiac intensive care unit with North Shore-LIJ Health System since graduating from Adelphi in 2009—said, “I love being a nurse and I really couldn’t imagine any other profession for myself.”
After completing her senior practicum at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, New York, in the critical care unit (CCU) as a senior nursing student, she inquired about a full-time R.N. position. “I started my interviews in April 2009 and…had the job by May,” she recalled.
She then went through the Critical Care Nurse Fellowship program, a yearlong program that prepares nurses to work in the intensive care unit.
“The position is high pressure at times, and as any new nurse would tell you, the first year out of school was nerve-racking,” she said. “As a CCU nurse, I’m responsible for managing and caring for two critically ill patients, usually with conditions like sepsis, post-cardiac arrest, heart attacks and heart failure.”
Podany added: “A nurse really is the voice of the patient and liaison between them and the medical team…There are patients whose faces you never forget and patients that you go home and cry about.
“It can be sad and draining. But I love and embrace every minute of it because the look of gratitude a patient gives you when you’ve made their day just a little better in some way means that you’ve made a difference., you’ve alleviated their suffering in some way—and that to me is the purpose of life.”
Since Fall 2011, Podany has also served as co-chair of the Collaborative Care Council at North Shore. Explaining her duties in that capacity, she said, “That involves meeting with CCU management, staff, physicians, pharmacists and nutritionists, and getting their feedback about the flow of the unit, how we are doing, what can be done better.”
What inspired her to pursue a nursing career? Podany started by saying, “I did not always want to be a nurse. When I was 14, my mother was diagnosed with cancer.” One day, her mother started turning blue and had shortness of breath, so the family called 911.
“Ironically, she went to the very hospital I work in now,” Podany said, “and after cardiac arresting in the ER, was taken to the medical ICU. She spent three weeks there on life supportive measures before she died.”
After summarizing that backstory, she explained, “I became a nurse for her—she was a nurse and I wanted to carry on her legacy and keep her memory alive in my life in some way. After seeing what happened to my mother, and knowing how helpless I felt, I knew what it felt like to be on the other side of healthcare. I knew the desperate, painful feeling that families of sick loved ones feel. I took this as a gift from my mother. Her death taught me empathy, and I chose nursing because I felt it would allow me to put it to good use.”
She also looks upon her father, Jiri, a physician in Queens, as an inspiration.
“I have no words to describe the gratitude, respect and admiration I have for my dad,” she said. “He put his career and life on hold to raise my sisters and me alone, helped me study for my exams in nursing school, told me I could do it when I thought I’d never make it through my first year as a nurse and, above all, he unconditionally supports who I am and what I want to become.”
Fondly recalling her Honors College experience, Podany praised several professors.
“While I loved my nursing education,” she said, “Honors College afforded me the opportunity to…broaden my learning. I took classes with Dean [Richard] Garner and Associate Dean [Diane] Della Croce. They were called Human Condition I and II, involving discussions of key works of literature that I still revisit in many discussions I’ve had with other people and even on job interviews.”
She added, “Honors College was my family away from home. I still keep in touch and visit.”
For the Podanys, Honors College is indeed a family affair. Besides Marie Podany—who recently earned a combined M.P.H./M.B.A. degree in public health practice and business administration at Stony Brook University—one sister, Wendy Podany ’11, went through Honors College as a biology major and is now seeking an M.D. at Stony Brook School of Medicine, while another sister, Georgina, is presently in Honors College, also as a biology major.