Giving Back to the Community that Opened its Arms to My Family
Paulina Miklosz, nurse practitioner at CHC of New Britain, remembers the first time she came to the clinic in 1997. “I was eight years old,” said Miklosz, whose family had just emigrated from Poland. She remembers the receptionist who spoke to her in Polish, the nurse who also spoke Polish and the translator who helped her communicate with pediatrician Robert Dudley during the physical exam.
“It was so reassuring to hear someone speaking our language,” said Miklosz.
Miklosz was drawn to nursing while attending New Britain High School where she completed a nursing assistant certification program. She then enrolled at Boston College and completed her bachelors and master’s degrees in nursing there. She also studied Spanish, a language she knew would come in handy as a nurse practitioner.
“I had studied Spanish in high school, and really missed it once I got to college so I decided to minor in Hispanic Studies and study abroad in Quito, Ecuador. I fell in love with the language and culture, and I wanted to be able to provide the same reassurance to Latino patients that I received from CHC’s Polish-speaking staff. I felt called to serve the community of New Britain, and I knew Spanish was something I needed to provide truly culturally competent care here.”
Miklosz is a graduate of CHC’s nurse practitioner residency program. “The NP residency is a great way to transition from a grad program to full-time clinical practice and really hone one’s clinical skills,” said Miklosz. “Specialty rotations and precepted clinics are built into the program so you are still learning how to best treat patients while building your own small panel. Residency programs really help NPs become well-rounded primary care providers.”
Miklosz is also currently enrolled in the doctoral nursing program at the University of Connecticut. “I hope to use the training in my clinical work with the homeless, which has really become a passion of mine” said Miklosz, who works within CHC’s Wherever You Are (WYA) health care for the homeless program. “The NP residency is where I was first exposed to homeless care. I really enjoyed my WYA rotation during the residency and was fortunate enough to transition to WYA after 2 years at the New Britain CHC site.” Miklosz maintains a small Polish-speaking patient panel at the New Britain site where she continues to work one day a week.
“The nurse practitioner role is rooted in the nursing model which differs a bit from the medical model. NPs usually start out as RNs, caring for patients at the bedside and often supporting patients (and their families) through trying and difficult times. This allows nurses to see the patient in a truly holistic way and identify patients’ psychosocial needs in addition to physical needs. I believe it’s imperative to keep those nursing principals firmly in mind as NPs continue to practice and advance their nursing career.”
Miklosz looks forward to continuing her work at CHC and, more specifically, in New Britain. “I feel very blessed for the opportunity to give back to the community that opened its arms to my family 18 years ago.”