Vol. 7 • Issue 1
• Page 15
Like many nurses who live and work within the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, Andi Smith, MS, RN, CPNP, finds the richness and variety of lifestyle options quite appealing. She devotes her workdays to children with orthopedic disorders at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, Dallas, and her free time enjoying life in the north Dallas community where she shares a 50-year-old home with her husband.
"For a couple, this community can be anything you want it to be, whether you're interested in sports or the arts," she said. "There are so many options in Dallas; if you can't find something to be interested in, you're really not trying very hard!"
Smith's great love is running. "I've always been a runner since seventh grade and ran throughout middle school, high school and college," she said. A competitive runner, Smith has crossed the finish line for several years in a row at the Dallas White Rock Marathon presented by NexBank that benefits the hospital. Voted No.1 marathon and half marathon in Texas in 2007 by Competitor Texas magazine, the race features a scenic course that includes a flat and fast 10-mile loop around White Rock Lake and is a qualifying event for the Boston Marathon. More than 125,000 spectators line the streets of Dallas to cheer on the 17,000 participants.
Smith shared an interesting story about why marathons are 26.2 miles. "They used to be 26 miles, but the queen of England wanted to see the finish of one in her country, so they extended it 385 yards so it would finish up in front of her viewing stand," she said. "And a marathon has been 26.2 miles ever since."
What motivates people to run? "I use my morning runs to pray, think about things that may be bothering me and plan my day," Smith said. "It's up to me alone to get to the finish line, and I love that challenge."
A marathon training program can extend up to 20 weeks, and Smith has had the privilege of coaching men and women for various races across the country and overseas for 11 years.
"They really have to want to do it," she remarked. "They gravitate toward my enthusiasm, and my Saturday morning runs with my friends and the people I coach are one of the highlights of my life."
A Good Balance
Stacey Jantzen, RN, a cardiac cath lab nurse at Methodist Mansfield Medical Center, Mansfield, TX, lives in nearby Midlothian, a community that used to be agricultural and is now growing rapidly.
"We've kept that small-town feeling, with our Scarecrow Festival, Christmas Parade, and Safe Trick or Treating program," she said.
Sports are big in Midlothian; Panthers high school football serves as a training ground for many future sports stars and Jantzen coaches a group of 6- to 12-year old girls who cheer for the Midlothian Youth Football League.
"Everyone who signs up makes it on a team, and from there we develop them into a squad, hold practices, learn routines and dances, and cheer at games," she said. "I was a cheerleader all through elementary and high school, and when my daughter asked me to be a coach, I was ecstatic! Cheerleading is really good physical activity and builds character as well."
The girls on the team become deeply involved in the community and develop valuable life skills in the process.
"We recently designed a float for Midlothian High School's homecoming by taking a black Hummer and chicking it out as a 'Pantherette' with our girls sitting on a trailer leading crowd participation cheers," Jantzen said proudly. "We rotate the head cheerleader role, so everyone has a chance to develop leadership skills. Cheerleading builds trust and teamwork; you have to be able to synchronize and know that someone at the bottom of the pyramid - whether it's your best friend or your worst enemy - is going to catch you."
Education is a priority in Midlothian. "The elementary school my 8- and 11-year-old children attend is striving for a Highest Branch designation; they give out awards for good deeds and for shining as a good person for the month," Jantzen said. "Parents are very involved as volunteers for lunch duty and reading groups. The kids think, 'That woman comes in to listen to me read, so reading must be important.' I've also done some heart-healthy activities at the school to promote good nutrition and fitness. The community supported fundraising for a new playground and shade area, and everyone cares about education."
Jantzen has set a good example for her children and her cheerleaders by attending the University of Texas at Arlington's BSN program offered in partnership with her hospital.
"I can balance home, work, children, school and cheerleading because of a good calendar, good communication with my family, and great support from my supervisor and colleagues," she said.
Serving the Community
Joyce Bass, MSHA, BSN, RN, OCN, nurse manager of oncology at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, has lived in the Garland area on the outskirts of Dallas for more than 30 years.
"Until 10 years ago, it was a small and quiet community," she remarked. "It's now growing as a part of Dallas County, but it's still serene and comforting."
Bass travels to Dallas proper for her job and occasionally for some shopping or to visit an exclusive restaurant.
"I also go to the southern part of Dallas once a month where a friend of mine, Johrice Newton, RN, and I, along with volunteer physician Dana Bleakney, MD, offer a free clinic for the underserved community in the southern sector of Dallas," she said. "When Faith Memorial Church housed some victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, we started by taking blood pressures. Now, we're one of the sites for Project Access Dallas, and the only free clinic in the area providing healthcare to the community. We recently expanded to offer women's services monthly provided by two nurse practitioners."
Bass described Newton as a close friend and the wind beneath her wings. "I'm African-American, as is Johrice, and we knew a church-sponsored clinic would face some trust issues in this community of mainly Latino and African-American families," she acknowledged. "It has taken up until this year to make the community know we are trustworthy and we're going to be there for them. We've built up a core of clients, and they understand we are providing quality care without any strings attached."
North Dallas has cultural diversity, not only in its people, but in entertainment venues as well.
"That's important for our children and grandchildren," Bass pointed out. "I have a wonderful husband, three children and three grandchildren, and Garland is a very safe place to raise a family. We have wonderful schools in our area and there are many fine universities in Dallas for higher education."
Ties That Bind
Christy Daae, BSN, RN, clinical coordinator in the emergency department at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth is a lifelong native.
"I was born at the hospital where I work and now live on the border between Crowley and Burleson in north Fort Worth," she said. "My parents live on the Fossil Creek Golf Course in northern Fort Worth, and all my family have stayed in the area so I have a strong social network."
Daae is proud of everything Fort Worth offers for people of all ages. "It's the hub of the Dallas/Fort Worth area; you can get anywhere you want to go in just 30 minutes," she said. "I love to go to Burleson to visit the shops selling everything from Western supplies to knickknacks and we're not far from the DFW airport. The downtown area has been renovated into an eclectic setting with clubs and events for singles, young married couples, families and older individuals as well. I know the single nurses who work in our ED have no problem at all finding things to enjoy downtown."
Daae's husband is also a nurse and 8-year-old son Corbett has further strengthened the family's ties to the community. "I went to school in Burleson, and now we live in a comfortable, safe neighborhood of 500 homes with a community pool not too far from where I grew up," she remarked. "Corbett goes to a small Christian school and has a lot of energy, so he plays soccer and baseball in Crowley."
Life will soon be a little busier at the Daae household when Corbett becomes a big brother, but his mom knows she'll have a lot of help and support.
"I'm very involved with my church, teaching Bible school and working with the Benevolence House ministry that provides food, clothing, jobs and English as a second language classes to people in the poor neighborhood it serves," she said. "I like being close to my parents and my husband's mom, and enjoy being part of my extended church family that serves as a social network."
Sandy Keefe is a frequent contributor to ADVANCE.