When Deanna Raponi learned the Neurological Intensive Care Unit at AdventHealth Orlando wanted her to come work there as a nurse, she was pleasantly surprised.
It was summer 2021, and Ms. Raponi had just graduated with her Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from AdventHealth University.
“It was a huge honor that they accepted a fresh graduate,” Raponi, 26, said.
She’s been there a year and loves what she does.
The irony is that nursing was not on her radar when she graduated from high school in 2014. She took a year off after high school and had decided to go the cosmetology route.
Her future mother-in-law was a nurse and inspired Raponi to explore nursing as a career. It didn’t take much to spark her interest in nursing, as she was touched with how her grandparents were cared for as they battled cancer and always felt a call to help others.
Raponi began working at CentraCare in Lake County and AdventHealth Waterman before deciding to enroll at AHU. As an AdventHealth team member, she received assistance through its robust tuition reimbursement program. She also earned an endowed scholarship through AHU’s Foundation.
“I just liked how tight knit the school was,” she said. “Everyone treated you like family, and I liked how small the class sizes were.”
Then she found a spot as a nurse tech in the ICU while she was going to school.
“I wasn’t sure my ideal nursing job was until I worked in the COVID unit,” said Raponi, who spent her nursing residency in the neurological intensive care unit. She credits the professors at AHU for preparing her for what she encounters in the ICU each day. “The way the professors taught us how to therapeutically speak to patients and their family has really helped me,” she said. “You want to talk in a way where they feel this nurse cares about the family, not just the patient. They pushed us to include the family in the care we provide. When I saw the impact it has on health outcomes, that completely changed my outlook.”
Raponi, who has considered going back to school to earn a degree as a nurse anesthetist or nurse practitioner, primarily works with patients who have brain hemorrhages and brain tumors. Every minute counts with brain bleeds, and Raponi finds ways to cope with the fact that some of her ICU patients will not survive. One particular case continues to motivate her to provide whole-person care.
A patient who had a spontaneous bleed went in for surgery to have his blood clot removed. It was a high-risk emergency procedure, a hemorrhagic hematoma extraction, and there was a chance he might not make it through surgery, she recalled. But then miracles happen from time to time on her unit, and hope and healing triumph.
“Within an hour, his Glasgow Coma Scale went up and he was able to leave the ICU,” said Raponi. “That’s unheard of and really stuck out to me.”
About This Series
As part of AdventHealth University’s 30th anniversary, we’re spotlighting 30 inspiring alumni.