Suggested nursing career leads to lifetime of fulfillment

In 2022, Kimberly Rossi-Pallante received the Florence Nightingale award. She was on a team of healthcare professionals to create a 12-bed surgical intensive care unit on the third floor of St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital, which is still in use, along with a 10-bed cardiology intervention unit that is now a cardiac specialty unit.

YOUNGSTOWN — When Kimberly Rossi-Pallante told her parents she wanted to take over their small business selling furniture someday, they suggested another idea.

“They said, ‘No, you need a more secure future,'” she said.

Her parents encouraged her to attend college, telling her she needed a strong education after graduating from Lowellville High School in 1978. They suggested nursing.

Fast forward 42.5 years later and 10 years of school, Rossi-Pallante wouldn’t have her story any other way.

“I’m more grateful and thankful to have experienced the journey of a lifetime,” she said. “There is nothing I would rather do.”

Rossi-Pallante, who is in her 60s, has worked her entire career at St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital in downtown Youngstown.

She balanced her budding nursing career with continuing her education.

In 1981, she earned an associate’s degree in nursing from Youngstown State University, followed by a bachelor of science in applied science in 1986 from YSU. Rossi-Pallante graduated from the University of Akron in 1992 with her master’s in nursing administration.

Her prolific career began on the general renal floor. From there, she became a staff nurse in the surgical intensive care unit, and then the manager of that unit for 15 years.

Her journey doesn’t stop there.

In 1992, Rossi-Pallante was instrumental in implementing a 12-bed surgical intensive care unit, which still exists on the third floor.

“It’s a beautiful unit,” she said.

In 1996, a group of registered nurses, including Rossi-Pallente, and cardiologists created a 10-bed cardiology intervention unit.

Patients undergoing procedures in the cath lab stayed in that unit, which was altered in 2018 as a cardiac specialty unit. That’s where she became the team lead.

In all, Rossi-Pallante was a SICU nurse for 15 years and has been a cardiologist nurse for 27.

Her commitment to her career, which she also calls her passion, was recognized in 2022 when she received the Florence Nightingale award, and again in 2023 with the Spirit of Mission award.

Rossi-Pallante credits her parents’ lessons in shaping her approach to work.

“They had impeccable work ethic,” she said. “They’d always say, ‘When you find yourself in a difficult position and you feel everything is going against you, just keep on pushing harder.'”

They also taught their children to be humble and kind, which are needed to be a nurse, Rossi-Pallante said.

Now she shares her guidance with new nurses.

She tells them “Your faith and humility will be the most vital thing you can give your patients.”

Those two components will keep nurses “patient-focused instead of task-oriented, gracious rather than defensive and therapeutic rather than mechanical.”

It’s also important for nurses starting out in their careers to hear that nursing is about collaboration and listening.

“Everyone has something to contribute that’s valuable,” she said.

As her career has evolved, Rossi-Pallante has watched the once-small hospital flourish, too.

Decision makers turn to employees for their input on how to best improve the hospital. They often turn to nurses when it comes time to act on a decision, Rossi-Pallante said.

“We’re the ones that see the patients,” she said.

Nurses work so closely with patients who sometimes take on more than a caregiver role.

Through the COVID-19 pandemic, Rossi-Pallante said “it was a rough time.”

Not only were nurses caregivers, but they stepped in to fill the shoes of entire support systems for each patient, as family and best friends, for example.

As challenging as it was, Rossi-Pallante looks back now with gratitude.

“I’m so proud to be part of the nurses in this institution that have put themselves out there and did an amazing, amazing job,” she said.

To anyone interested in becoming a nurse, Rossi-Pallante wants to pass on a tip: Keep the faith in everything, from integrity to emotion to actions.

Nurses take on many roles, including building trust and calming anxiety.

“Nursing is an art and science. Not only do you possess compassion and knowledge, but there’s a layer of comforting patients while creating a safe environment for them,” she said. To have a lasting and fulfilling nursing career, “you have to be committed.”

There’s also some creative problem-solving in the mix outside of medicine.

Recently, a patient was ill and wanted to sign out. Rossi-Pallante found out it was because the patient was concerned about her dog at home.

Rossi-Pallante made arrangements to have the dog visit daily and said the woman made strides as she healed.

Her expertise has carried to a new generation: Rossi-Pallante’s daughter, Erika, has one more year of nursing school at YSU.

“My biggest hope is I can give her the tools and wish her the best career she could ever have, as I’ve had,” she said.

When she’s not working, Rossi-Pallante, who lives in Poland with her husband Thomas, loves to shop, travel and spend time with family.

Have an interesting story? Contact Ashley Fox by email at afox@tribtoday.com.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $2.99/week.

Subscribe Today