Spotlight on: Joan McAllister, RN, Ambulatory Surgery, St. James Hospital
By Marianne Benjamin
Friday, December 11, 2020 10:48 AM
Joan McAllister, RN, St. James Ambulatory Surgery Center, always knew she wanted to be a nurse. ”I loved science and everything about nursing,” she said. In fact one of her early memories includes playing nurse while her sister played teacher. So no one was surprised when McAllister and her sister actually chose those careers for their lives.
McAllister received her LPN in 1977, right out of high school from Steuben/Allegany County BOCES, and graduated in 1980 from Alfred State College with an associate degree in nursing. The Hornell resident began her career in OB nursing at Genesee Hospital and worked in OB at St. James from 1982 to 2014 until the service was discontinued at the hospital. From 2014 to 2018 she worked at Noyes so she could continue working in labor and delivery. In 2018, she returned to St James to work in Ambulatory Surgery.
“I like the small-town feel in a community hospital,” she said. “You know your patients and your co-workers inside and outside of the hospital, as well.”
McAllister had several opportunities to go into nursing leadership but has always preferred bedside nursing. “I love taking care of patients and helping make a difference in someone’s life,” she said. “That’s why I loved working in OB, being there at the start of a brand new family and having the opportunity to follow up with new moms and help them with their questions, which I did as a lactation consultant for 20 years.”
But she is also fulfilled by her role in same-day surgery. “I like the quick pace of this kind of nursing,” she said. “We prep them for surgery, are with them during recovery, and educate them about their care before they go home.”
She urges young nurses to spend a few years at the bedside before furthering their careers. “It’s important to be able to relate to what the patient is going through,” she said. “But ultimately nursing is a great profession that can take you anywhere you want to go.”
McAllister plans to officially retire in a few weeks but will remain per diem at St. James. “I am a nurse,” she said. “I am ready to retire and spend more time with my grandchildren, but I can’t give up nursing completely.”