March 21, 2023
Meet Jean Szerzinski, MSN, RN, ONC
Where are you from?
St. Louis City! I grew up in the Holly Hills neighborhood and that is where we bought our first home and later our second. We love it there!
What brought you to Washington University Orthopedics?
I attended Southeast Missouri State University, and upon graduation I interviewed at a few St. Louis hospitals. I chose Barnes Hospital as it was big, diverse, and offered a three-month externship for new nurses. For the externship, I was to pick two areas of the hospital that interested me and work in each area for four weeks. At the end of the program I would choose which area I would work. I knew I wanted to check out obstetrics but I did not have a strong feeling for my second choice. The recruiter told me that orthopedics needed nurses so I did my second four weeks on 7300, the orthopedic floor at that time. Orthopedics was both interesting and challenging and the ortho nurses I worked with were hardworking and fun. My pick was orthopedics!
I worked as a staff RN and later as Assistant Nurse Manager on 7300 and I was there for about 8 years. At that time, there was a new trend happening at hospitals, same-day and outpatient surgeries, and that led to a new opportunity. Patients were now coming in the morning of surgery and they needed to be ‘worked up’ before going to the OR (there was no CPAP yet!). The hospital created a new position, “Nurse Coordinator,” to do a pre-surgical workup for these patients and I landed the job doing this for orthopedics.
For the next 13 years, as a Barnes/Barnes-Jewish Hospital employee, I worked very closely with WashU Orthopedics. In this role, some of my duties were hospital-based but much of my work was in the WashU Orthopedic office and clinic setting working with Paul Manske, MD on the hand service. It really was a great job!
In 2002 I made the official jump from Barnes-Jewish to Washington University as the Clinical Administrator (later Nursing Administrator) with the Orthopedic Department in the newly opened Center for Advanced Medicine, suite 6A. My, has our department grown! I am going on 42 years of orthopedic nursing. It has been quite a ride!
What aspect of your work do you find most interesting or rewarding?
We have a great team at CAM South County and I try to be available and keep a presence in the clinic area, making sure all is running smoothly and to offer assistance when needed. I enjoy meeting new staff and new providers and helping them learn the ins-and-outs of our department and CAM SC. Talking with patients who may want to express gratitude for the great care received, call out an employee who they felt went above-and-beyond or sometimes need to tell someone what went wrong or what we could have done better is also an important part of what I do.
What is your favorite thing to do outside of work?
My husband, Michael, is a wonderful planner and I am a wonderful follower. He finds and plans the most amazing hikes, day trips, local venues for dining/music,and festivals. He also plans all of our vacations…I really am a wonderful follower! Last February we went to Key West for our 40th and we had a great time. I also like to garden, walk with my sister, and read.
What's the best advice you ever received?
Treat others the same as you want to be treated. (Thanks, mom!)
If you weren't in health care, what would you like to be doing?
Anything else you’d like to share?
I grew up in a very loving and fun home with parents and siblings that were always there for me. Our family gathered every Sunday at my paternal grandparent’s home that was filled with aunts, uncles and cousins. It made for a strong beginning and I am very grateful. My extended family still gets together, but not every Sunday!
Michael, my husband and best friend, and I celebrated our 40th anniversary in June. I always remind him that I have been ‘married’ to orthopedics for one year longer! Nothing makes me happier than spending time with my three children and their families. They are my joy! Andrea, my youngest, lives in Chicago – a great place to visit except in the winter! My middle child, Kaitlin, and her family live in Santa Fe, NM – a beautiful place to visit! My oldest, Matt, and his family live in St. Louis and recently bought a home just a block away from us! I am a very lucky wife, mother, mother-in-law, and grandmother to four wonderful children! Life is good.
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