Kristen Booker Tasker ’92Registered Nurse
My entire career has been focused around the heart. We had a telemetry rotation at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center on the step-down unit - during my junior year at Colby-Sawyer. I still vividly remember looking up at the bedside monitor at the ECG rhythm and hearing my professor explain how each line represented a cardiac function that was happening live. He explained how the first area represented the depolarization of the atrium, and the bigger line was the ventricle depolarization and contracting. I was sold hook, line and sinker on cardiac function. The fact that the heart had both mechanical and electrical activity was fascinating to me, and I knew that I wanted to gain as much cardiac clinical experience as I possibly could.
New Hampshire holds a special place in my heart. I was born there, went to college there and spent my summers sailing on Lake Winnipesaukee. Colby-Sawyer College is special to me because of where it is on the globe. I love the mountains and lakes. Mountain Day was a highlight that I always recall with great memories. The anticipation of the ringing of the bells and then the actual hike was always a blast.
Nursing is a profession that can take you anywhere. There are nurses in every aspect of society. I picked critical care to focus on, but I originally picked nursing because of how vast the profession was. Corporations have nurses on their staff, research firms hire nurses, all schools need nurses, and armed services have many areas where nurses are utilized. The list of possibilities for nurses is literally limitless, and that is why I originally picked nursing. I knew I wanted a science-based career and one that cared for people.
After learning about my love for cardiac care, I focused on critical care. I was offered a position in Johns Hopkins critical care program in 1994 where I studied critical care nursing for six months in conjunction with being paired with a preceptor providing care to patients in the Coronary Care Unit. I was honored to be chosen for this program at Hopkins and am still thankful for the learning opportunity. I was introduced to intra-aortic balloon pumps at Hopkins and couldn’t believe there was a machine that could provide extra coronary perfusion to a heart that had compromised coronary perfusion. From there, I learned about the cath lab and how interventional cardiology can take a person who is actively having a heart attack and open up blocked arteries.
My career has included working in the Coronary Care Unit at Hopkins, caring for pediatric cardiac surgical patients at Boston Children’s for 12 years, interventional cardiology at Brigham and Women’s and currently I am working in the Cardiac Surgical ICU at Brigham and Women’s in Boston. Along the way, I also learned how to interpret cardiac stress tests. All of my jobs have incorporated teaching new nurses and nursing students. I love to teach and reaching students through clinical experiences.
I graduated from a Legal Nurse Consultant program through Brighton College in December 2017. I review cardiac critical care cases for attorneys. I review cases that are for both the plaintiff and the defense. My legal nurse consulting business is very small, meaning I truly do it on the side and average one case at a time, but I do enjoy translating our hospital world and all that it entails to the legal world.
My dream job… I work really hard at maintaining a job that isn’t “job-like”. Meaning I try to do work that fulfills me. I continue to be enthralled with cardiology, so that is where I am focusing my aspirations. The only factor I would change in order to achieve that “dream” status is that I would be on a sailboat. The last ten years of my career might just be floating around Key West in my 40-foot sailboat reviewing cardiology cases sporadically as I fish for dinner and take breathtaking pictures of the sunset.