A moment with ... Erica Prater, RN, BSN treasurer Georgia Nurses Association.
It is refreshing to happen upon people so truthfully dedicated to what is good and right that it shows in every word and action. Within moments of beginning your conversation with Erica, you realize that her intelligence is matched with dedication and compassion. As GNA Treasurer, Erica Prater must be able to delicately balance conviction of opinion and willingness to maintain an open mind. Her balanced leadership is what has led her to success professionally, personally and in GNA.
Prater, a Charlotte, NC native, now resides in Athens with her husband Paul and their beautiful son, Zachary. The family moved to Athens in 1994 shortly after Prater received her BSN from UNC--Chapel Hill. Moses and Zelda, the family pets, keep them company and complete a happy home.
Well-educated (Erica also has a degree in American History from UNC--Chapel Hill) and well-rounded, Erica has the ability to understand both people and organizations. The following gives us a glimpse into the mother, nurse, wife and leader that Erica Prater is today.
JW: Erica, why did you decide to become a nurse?
Prater: Most importantly, I knew nursing was the surest way to make a tangible difference in people's lives each day. Also, I needed a flexible schedule with great variety of work while maintaining a decent lifestyle.
JW: Where are you currently employed?
Prater: I began nursing as a staff nurse at a small hospital an hour away from Athens. Within 6 months I got a job at Athens Regional Medical Center (ARMC) as a cardiology staff nurse, thanks in part to the contacts that I had made in my local GNA district. Three years later I became a nurse educator at ARMC. During November of 2005, I became the Unit Director of 5th Medical and Oncology at ARMC.
JW: Erica, do you have any heroes? Inspirations?
Prater: Absolutely. Fran Beall and Shelby Lacy. And, of course, Florence Nightingale.
JW: As GNA Treasurer, tell us about your goals.
Prater: Obviously, I aim to maintain the financial health of the organization while allowing for appropriate growth and improvement. With that in mind, I hope for the organization to expand its reach to include more of Georgia's nurses, and that we can more adequately adapt and respond to the needs of those nurses. Improving our technology to create more avenues of member involvement is critical.
JW: What is your favorite thing about GNA membership?
Prater: The opportunity to meet and connect with the great nurses around the state. Knowledge is power, and we often gain the greatest knowledge from interaction with our peer groups.
JW: In your opinion, what is GNA's most important activity?
Prater: Obviously, providing the network of peers is important, but GNA also plays an important role in legislative activities important to nurses and patients. GNA does a great job keeping the membership informed of these activities. Also, providing educational opportunities and being a resource for general public about nursing.
JW: What would you say is your career high?
Prater: There are several situations that come to mind. I can remember a patient on Cardiology that was recovering from an angioplasty. Because I assessed his lung sounds several times through the shift I noticed that he was beginning to collect fluid in his lungs and was able to get diurectic medication administered before he went into distress. I can remember another patient whose cardiac vessels closed after an angioplasty and I was able to get the cath lab team and physician called in to be able to do a rescue angioplasty and prevent a heart attack. In my educator role I was always excited when students came to me and said that they finally felt comfortable reading telemetry strips.
JW: Conversely, what is the greatest challenge in your career?
Prater: With any career, it is disheartening to be challenged when you are certain you are correct. It is more frustrating in a high-stress environment where the outcome of the patient depends on your every decision. With that in mind, I try to be an effective nurse manager by fostering teamwork and professionalism in my staff. I aspire to have the units that nurses are lining up to work on!
JW: Tell us about some of your most memorable events, personally or professionally.
Prater: The day, or moment, when we got the call that we had our baby. Zachary's adoption was a beautiful 4-day whirlwind of excitement. We got the call on a Tuesday morning that he was ours. He was born on Wednesday, we met him on Thursday, and he was home by Friday.
JW: With so much on your plate, what do you like to do in your "off" time?
Prater: I believe it is a challenge, but that we all must find a balance of work, parent, wife and self. I love to sing and currently sing in two choirs--the Athens First United Methodist Church choir and the Athens Chamber Singers. Singing feeds my soul and is great for stress reduction--must be all the deep breathing that you have to do to sing well. The sense of family and community that is found in a choral group is also a draw for me.
JW: What would you say has GNA added to your life?
Prater: My active participation has given me the chance to develop leadership skills, learn about managing large budgets and make my voice heard.
The above interview was conducted June 2005 with the permission of Erica Prater for use by the Georgia Nurses Association. For questions or to contact Erica, please contact the GNA office at 404.325.5536.
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|Date:||Aug 1, 2006|
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