Pain management nurse dedicated to improving others’ lives
Heather Martinez, RN, understands that some people live with constant pain.
Her grandmother has endured back pain for decades — from an auto accident in her younger years, then from aging and osteoporosis. It’s partly what motivated Heather to work in Pain Management at Via Christi Clinic on Founders’ Circle.
“It’s an overlooked area of patient care because it is so subjective,” she says of the specialty.
“There’s no way to measure someone’s pain,” says Heather, 32, whose patients often suffer neck or spinal pain from injury or age. “Sometimes you can’t even see it on their faces.”
Serving in a physician clinic setting provides opportunities to build relationships with patients and meet new people every day, she says.
“I wanted to be a nurse for a long time,” says Heather, who is a testament that through dedication, patience and some personal sacrifice, you can achieve your dreams.
She earned her associate degree by taking one or two classes each semester until she had enough prerequisites at Wichita State University to begin their Nursing program. She worked full time in customer service and sales until her final two semesters — all while raising her children: Kiara, 11, Isaac, 14, and Cierra, 15 — and maintaining good grades.
“You can have goals and accomplish things and still take care of your family,” she says. “But it may not be instant.”
Now in her second year with Via Christi, Heather is earning her bachelor’s degree in Nursing with plans for certification in Pain Management and eventually becoming a nurse practitioner.
Q&A with Heather
I go the extra mile for my patients by…trying to make eye contact, smile and greet them, and making follow-up calls to be sure everything is going all right.
Not many people know…before becoming a nurse, I worked for nine years in sales and customer service at a large telecommunications company. The first thing I learned was to listen to the customer then repeat their concerns back so they knew they were heard. I practice the same things today.
One thing that makes for a great work day is…a positive attitude, which starts with being thankful for the abilities I have.
My advice for people entering a health care/nursing career is…think of patients as friends or loved ones — people you care about — in order to give them the best care possible. You have to be dedicated to making others’ lives better.
I know I make a difference in the lives of patients and families when…someone says ‘thank you’ for the care I provided.
The most important thing my patients have taught me is…perseverance. Many of them continue to go to work, take care of their families, etc., despite being in a great amount of pain.
If I weren’t/couldn’t be a nurse, I would be an…archaeologist. It would be fun to learn about past civilizations.
I am inspired by…my family and friends, because when I lacked belief in myself, they always believed in me and encouraged me to follow my dreams.
One word that describes me…dedicated.
I am most proud of…my perseverance throughout life that has allowed me to get where I am today.
My most recent accomplishment…graduating nursing school and starting to work on my bachelor’s in Nursing.