RN in Emergency Department at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s receives award
Christina Van Der Weide, RN, describes herself as a nurse, a coworker, a volunteer, an athlete, a traveler, a Christian, a sister and a daughter. And since December 2018, she is now also known as “The Most Interesting Nurse in the World,” thanks to an award she recently received, sponsored by Halo Communications. Coworker Madison Sullivan nominated Van Der Weide to receive this honor.
Founded in 2010 (as Doc Halo), Halo Communications creates high quality clinical collaboration platforms for health care. Nurses from around the country were nominated for this award, and one winner was selected, based on votes received by the public.
“I never thought there could be an award just for being who I am,” said Van Der Weide. “I am so surprised. I think my colleagues had more faith in me winning than I did.”
A native of Alberta, Canada, Van Der Weide has dual citizenship and is a fully licensed nurse currently living in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Travel nursing is what brought her to Mercy Health Hackley Hospital as a float nurse in 2017. After completing that contract, Van Der Weide received a job offer from Mercy Health Saint Mary’s, where she works full time as a night nurse in the ED.
Working at Mercy Health
Van Der Weide marvels about the support she has received since joining the ED team at Mercy Health. She has been amazed by how friendly and genuinely kind people are in both Muskegon and Grand Rapids. She feels at home with her colleagues at Mercy Health.
“Providers at Mercy Health have a lot of empathy and are supportive of nurses showing acts of kindness, such as giving a homeless patient a shower. In the ED, we collect clothing for patients. Being able to love on people through giving simple gifts like these allow us to share the Gospel through our actions.”
Travel Informs Her Nursing
Part of what makes this 27-year-old nurse so interesting is not only that she has worked in Canada and the United States, but that she has traveled all over the world, including Russia, Latvia, France, Switzerland, Belize, Guatemala, Palestine, Greece, Trinidad, India, the Netherlands, and the UK. She has also served as a medical volunteer in remote parts of the world.
In 2015 she worked for a month in a hospital in Nazareth, Israel, for Serve Nazareth. In 2016 she was a nurse for three weeks at a remote clinic in Mozambique — a medical mission sponsored by Doctors for Life. In 2017 and 2018, her DART (Disaster Assistance Response Team) registration with Samaritans Purse led to Van Der Weide spending a month volunteering in Iraq and Bangladesh, respectively. It is her passion for nursing, learning about other cultures, and her faith, that make such trips an integral part of who she is.
Van Der Weide believes that traveling has made her a better nurse. “Once you see how other people live and what their cultural norms are, you can more easily connect with them. I’m more culturally sensitive as a nurse because my travels have helped me understand the cultural norms of some of my patients,” she added.
Her Diverse Interests
When she isn’t working or traveling, Van Der Weide can be found pursuing one athletic venture or another. She loves doing various water sports, riding (horses, ostriches, bikes). She has trained and competed/graded in Brazilian Jujitsu, Thai boxing, Mixed Martial Arts, and Krav Maga (Israeli self-defense) and has run multiple half and full marathons.
In 2018 she spent eight months training for an Olympic Triathlon, Half Ironman, Century Bike Ride, Trail Marathon, and finally for an Ironman in September to raise funds for cancer research, in honor of her brother. Currently she is training in yoga, Systema (Russian Martial Arts) and CrossFit.
On Her Horizon
A believer in the merits of both Western and alternative medicines to heal patients, Van Der Weide has seen firsthand how alternative therapies have helped to heal her own injuries and medical conditions as well as those of her brother, who is a two-time cancer survivor.
“I would like to pursue further education in Functional and Integrative Medicine,” she says. “I am particularly interested in addressing the root causes of disease and viewing a person more holistically, acknowledging the influences of mental health on the physical and vice versa.”
As for future travels, the $5,000 award from Halo Communications will certainly provide an opportunity for Van Der Weide to visit places she has never been. For now, The 2018 Most Interesting Nurse in the World will be going to Australia and New Zealand before heading off to Texas with her pet Husky on a travel contract for 13 weeks in early 2019.
She then plans to return to Mercy Health Saint Mary’s, where she feels right at home.