Who Is Nurse Anita?
Nurse Anita, aka Anita Nurse, aka the Stoma Whisperer or the Stoma Doula. I'm all of those things, but mostly I consider myself a healer. I just happen to have a unique specialty focusing on ostomy management and stomas.
I grew up on Long Island in New York and graduated from nursing school in 1995 with a bachelor's degree. After trying several different jobs, I eventually found my passion for working in home healthcare.
In the beginning: Riding through the New York City streets
I worked as a home care nurse in New York City and rode my bicycle up and down the east side of Manhattan, taking care of all sorts of wonderful people with wounds and ostomies.
I loved seeing wounds heal and teaching patients how to care for their ostomies. My patients, along with my wound, ostomy, and continence nurse (WOCN) mentors Dee and Susan, encouraged me to pursue this specialty.
To Texas we go
In 2001, I took a leave of absence and moved to Houston, Texas, for 3 months of training at M.D. Anderson Enterostomal Therapy School. I graduated and passed the 300-question board exam on the first try.
After all this training, I decided I needed to return to acute care to polish my new skills. I moved to Dallas and worked at a large university hospital with 5 other super WOCNs, who taught me so much that I would never learn from in-home care.
Coming back to my passions
After several years in acute care, including a stint with the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, I returned to my passion for working in home care. Around this time, I also obtained my master's degree in nursing and learned to write and do abstract posters! I presented my first professional nursing poster in 2010 at the National WOCN Society's annual conference.
Shortly afterward, I started writing for ThePhoenix magazine, the official journal of the United Ostomy Association of America (UOAA). I've written numerous articles about ostomies over the years and am now one of their columnists. My column is called "Ask Nurse Anita," and I answer questions about urostomies.
No 2 stomas are the same
Over the years, I have seen thousands of stomas. All are different and unique as every person is. I consider myself a prosthetician – a fitter of ostomy appliances, which are considered prosthetics. It's like a prosthetic leg for an amputee under Medicare.
After attending numerous conferences and education programs, I am familiar with most of the available ostomy products. I have a wonderful network of WOCNs whom I collaborate with on the most challenging cases. But I learn some of the best tips from my patients.
Committed to a life of learning
Being committed to lifelong learning, I have attended professional nursing conferences here and abroad. I've traveled to South Africa and Malaysia for World Wound/Ostomy conferences. Attending UOAA conferences and the Youth Rally camp has also been transformative for me as I joined hundreds of people and children living with ostomies.
I've presented posters on ostomy care at numerous nursing conferences and to colorectal surgeons. I've even taken a course in pelvic floor rehabilitation to enhance my continence skills.
I am a member of the American Holistic Nurses Association and am a healing touch practitioner. I have studied mindful-based stress reduction and try to practice meditating and being mindful daily. Most recently, I joined the Cannabis Nurses Network to learn more about the benefits of medical cannabis.
Teaching ostomy care
I don't have an ostomy, and I didn't grow up knowing anyone with an ostomy. But I found a niche that I'm good at and, more importantly, enjoy. Teaching ostomy care, or "intimate hygiene" techniques, is not for every nurse.
Besides skills and knowledge, you must have a good sense of humor, be creative, and have some courage and faith. And sometimes you need to think outside the box.
Thank you for having me. I hope to learn more about you and that I can provide you with some of my knowledge!
Has anyone in your family been diagnosed with bladder cancer before?
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