Open to many roles: Hosmanek’s nursing career encompasses various specialties
"Follow your passion because when you do something you love, it's not work," said alumna Ellen Hosmanek, ’86, who has been following her love for helping others during more than 25 years in the nursing profession.
Growing up in rural Minnesota, Hosmanek always loved the sciences. Nursing seemed to be the ideal profession for her.
"I learned at an early age that if you are passionate about it, you retain it," Hosmanek said.
It also helped that her father’s favorite sister happened to be a nurse.
“So there may have been some persuasion from him as well,” Hosmanek said.
What she liked most about nursing was the opportunity to work in many different specialties within the medical field. And that’s exactly what she did when she became a registered nurse and what she has done as she has built a career in patient care, case management and quality improvement over the years.
Hosmanek started her nursing career as a practicing RN, spending time in neurology, cardiology and nursery units. These experiences gave her a wide range of patient care skills early in her career – and some experiences she never forgot.
While working on the cardiology unit at Deaconess Hospital, Hosmanek remembers prepping a patient who was scheduled for heart surgery the next day. The woman thought she was having a hot flash, but it turned out to be a heart attack.
“I had to act fast: first priority getting her stabilized and then getting a hold of the heart surgeon to get her into surgery immediately,” Hosmanek said. "The patient later sent me a card, thanking me for saving her life. Those moments are forever ingrained in your memory and you take those learning experiences with you throughout the rest of your career, no matter what the role.”
It was that desire for advanced learning within the nursing profession that led her to Stritch. Hosmanek enrolled as part of the first class of BSN students at what was then Cardinal Stritch College. The Ruth S. College of Nursing, which began in 1980 with an associate degree program, added the bachelor’s completion in 1983.
"Stritch, at the time, was really the only school offering a nursing program for working nurses," said Hosmanek, who liked the flexible schedule as she was working full time.
Above all else, Hosmanek felt comfortable at Stritch.
“You could tell the nursing faculty was used to dealing with working adults,” Hosmanek said.
While in the program, Hosmanek came to appreciate Stritch’s diverse course offerings.
“Stritch helped be to become a more well-rounded individual,” Hosmanek said. “Through that liberal arts core, I learned you need many components to make up that life-career balance.”
And it was at Stritch where Hosmanek was exposed to the various directions she could take her nursing career. During one of her semesters in the program, Hosmanek did community work at a shelter for runaway children helping with crisis calls, preparing meals, and more.
“That really exposed me to community nursing and its possible roles,” Hosmanek said.
With that exposure and positive reinforcement from her instructors, Hosmanek began considering what else she could do professionally.
"My instructor told me that I was exceptional," Hosmanek said. "That meant a lot and she helped open my eyes to other roles."
That instructor introduced Hosmanek to a contact at the National League of Nursing who suggested she consider transitioning into managed healthcare. Shortly after graduating from Stritch, Hosmanek took a job with Blue Cross, Blue Shield in downtown Milwaukee.
“It’s funny how things always end up working out. I was ready for a change within my career and I had no idea I would also end up meeting my husband at the same time,” said Hosmanek, who met her now husband of 20+ years on the roof of Blue Cross’ parking structure one July 3 watching fireworks.
Hosmanek moved on from Blue Cross, Blue Shield to Care Network and then Assurant Health where she spent the next 20 years in various case/project management roles. More than anything, Hosmanek’s strong healthcare background has enabled her to help others advocate for their own healthcare needs.
“My career focus now is on community-based healthcare – ‘How can I give back?’” Hosmanek said.
She recently started a new position as the Quality RN Coordinator with Community Care, Inc., based in Milwaukee. The organization delivers care to adults with disabilities and seniors in their homes and communities.
"It has a great feeling about it. There is such a positive energy in the building and a real passion for community-based care," Hosmanek said.
In that role, Hosmanek works with the organization’s Quality Improvement program.
“A lot of what I have done is educational-based training and process improvement,” Hosmanek said. “And for someone who has a real passion for education, it’s a perfect fit.”
Outside of her professional life, Hosmanek finds her Stritch education also reflected in her personal endeavors. Hosmanek’s recent trip to Greece reminded her of how her Stritch coursework is still very much a part of her everyday life.
“My trip brought back so many found memories of my art appreciation class with Sister Thomasita Fessler, OSF,” Hosmanek said. “I can remember seeing images of Greece in that class and how Sister would use those types of lessons as ways to inspire the creativity in each of us.”