Thrive by IU Health

March 18, 2024

Certified nurses share their "why"

IU Health Tipton Hospital

Certified nurses share their

Nurses from across the IU Health Indianapolis Suburban Region—which includes IU Health North, Saxony, Tipton and West hospitals—share why they became certified and what they're most proud of.

By Charlotte Stefanski, cstefanski@iuhealth.org, writer for IU Health's Indianapolis Suburban Region

March 19 is Certified Nurses Day—a worldwide day of recognition to honor certified nurses everywhere and thank them for their dedication, achievements and commitment to patient safety.

Certified nurses across IU Health's Indianapolis Suburban Region share why they became certified nurses and what they’re most proud of in their careers.

IU Health North:

Ashley Bridges

Ashley Bridges, registered nurse (RN) Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), registered nurse-board certification (RN-BC).

Why did you become a nurse?

Initially, I thought I would go into veterinary medicine because I really loved animals and caring for them. But after some thought, I realized people have pets, likes rats and snakes, that I’m not too fond of. So, I switched my focus to people. Nursing is a career that will always be in demand, has multiple avenues to take, and no matter what role you play in the field, you will always be helping someone else.

What do you do in your current role?

Currently, I am the clinical operations manager of the 5B Medical unit at IU Health North.

What’s a nursing initiative you’re proud to be a part of?

During my time as a manager, one initiative I have been part of was a partnership with Carmel High School to hire their certified nursing assistant students as student patient care assistants. These students get to work alongside our nurses and techs, all while gaining clinical experience. It’s been great to see them grow and become more and more comfortable with patients and our team. Soon, we will be bringing in our next group of students as the current ones prepare to graduate and go to college.

What does being certified mean to you?

Being a certified nurse shows dedication to the field and continuing my education. Initially, it was a way for me to challenge myself and now it pushes me to seek out learning opportunities on topics that interest me as I work to maintain my certification.

IU Health Saxony:

Marci Pittenger

Marci Pittenger, registered nurse (RN), Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and certified perioperative nurse (CNOR).

Why did you become a nurse?

I just love taking care of people. I like to make a positive impact in both my patients' and their families' lives. 

What do you do in your current role?

I am a night shift coordinator in the Emergency department. I work beside with the nurses and serve as a resource to all of them. I also help with orientation when new nurses start in our unit.

What’s a nursing initiative you’re proud to be a part of?

I like that, at IU Health, our voices are heard as nurses. We have a governing council that we can bring issues to and also look into new research of evidence-based council.

What does be certified mean to you?

I am currently certified in the Operating Room, which is where I spent the first half of my career. I think it is important to be certified in your specialty area. My goal is to become certified in the Emergency department within the next year. 

IU Health Tipton:

Melissa Baxter-Standridge

Melissa Baxter-Standridge, Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), registered nurse (RN), certified emergency nursing (CEN).

Why did you become a nurse?

I became a certified nurse because I wanted to challenge myself and stay up to date on education and learning. I feel that I can be a better nurse and mentor if I push myself in this direction. I want to lead others to become certified.

What do you do in your current role?

Currently, I am the shift coordinator of Emergency Services at IU Health Tipton. For two days a week, I work in direct patient care in the Emergency department. For one day a week, I have administrative duties where I manage the daily schedules of all the team in the Emergency department. I am a member of the Professional Governance Council, of which I was the chairperson for the last two years.

What’s a nursing initiative you’re proud to be a part of?

I have been involved with IU Health Tipton’s two Pathway to Excellence committees.

What does being certified mean to you?

Be certified means going above and beyond to excel at having the knowledge to give the best care to my patients. I feel that I hold myself to high standards because of it. It gives me pride in my daily work.

IU Health West:

Erica Newkirk


Erica Newkirk, Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), registered nurse (RN), adult-gerontology certified nurse specialist – board certified (AGCNS-BC), gerontological – board certified (GERO-BC), certified medical-surgical registered nurse (CMSRN).

Why did you become a nurse?

I wanted to be a nurse because I wanted to improve the lives of others and advocate for patients. 

What do you do in your current role?

As a certified nursing specialist, my goal is to advance the practice of nursing. I work to ensure nurses are practicing at the bedside using the most up-to-date evidence available. That requires me to look at the literature and evaluate if our current practice matches best practice. If not, then I work with the healthcare team to implement and sustain best practices. This work could be from a system-wide, patient or nursing standpoint.  If a best practice does not exist, or we want to use it in a different way, then I would conduct a research study to test our hypothesis. I am always advocating for nursing and to make sure that nursing has a voice at the table in all matters. Our healthcare system could not survive without nurses!

What’s a nursing initiative you’re proud to be a part of?

I am proud to be leading the IU Health West Care Model Redesign. This will be done in phases. First, we are partnering with the bedside nurse and patient care assistants to eliminate workload burden—They have a lot of it. Second, we will look at how we can be innovative and change the way we deliver care to our patients. Another initiative I am proud to be a part of is preventing of workplace violence.

What does being certified mean to you?

Being certified means that I am an expert in those areas. This is important because being an expect will impact the care we give to our patients.