Excellence in Nursing: Meet Our 2017 Honorees
Pittsburgh Magazine highlights the unsung heroes of the health care field: our Excellence in Nursing honorees, chosen by our panel of distinguished nursing professionals.
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Jordan (Coltura) Sosko
When Jordan Sosko tells people what she does for a living, the response is usually something along the lines of, “I could never do that.” To Sosko, a pediatric oncology nurse at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, there is no other job she’d rather do.
“I get to work with the strongest kids on the planet,” says Sosko, 31, of North Huntington. “The fight they fight is incredible. It’s amazing to see people going through the worst-case scenario in life and they’re so positive. It’s the most rewarding thing in the world.”
Sosko set out to become a pediatric oncologist, and in her sophomore year as a pre-med student at the University of Pittsburgh, she did a work study at Children’s diabetes research lab. There, she learned nurses get to be with the patients and families day in and day ou,t through the good and bad.
“I’d never seen people who love their jobs the way nurses do,” Sosko says. “It was a light bulb moment when I realized I could do this every day and get paid for it. Ever since, I’ve felt that way. Most people can’t say they’re lucky enough to go to work every day and be excited about it. Every day, I feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to do.”
Sosko graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Pitt and attended Edinboro University’s accelerated bachelor’s in nursing program. Today, she is working toward a master’s in nursing education and leadership at Carlow University with hopes of becoming a clinical instructor.
She has worked at Children’s for five years, starting on the inpatient unit then moving to outpatient, and has made an impact far beyond what the role requires. Since March, Sosko has served a nurse ambassador for Up Street, a partnership between Children’s and Lending Hearts, a nonprofit dedicated to providing emotional and social support to young cancer patients. The wellness initiative provides yoga, aromatherapy, mindfulness, meditation and more to help patients cope with the symptoms and lifestyle changes accompanying a cancer diagnosis. For example, many patients experience chemo-induced nausea and are sensitive to the saline used to flush their ports.
“We’ve found the littlest bit of citrus oil can keep the kids from getting sick,” Sosko says. “It’s literally something that takes 10 seconds.”
Aromatherapy also helps with anxiety, as does yoga, which patients can practice with a certified instructor at bimonthly classes.
Sosko’s role as ambassador was ideal for the longtime yoga enthusiast, and Lending Hearts founder and executive director Vasso Paliouras says the fact that three more nurses are training to take on similar roles is a testament to the passion Sosko exudes for her work.
“The world needs a million Jordans,” Paliouras says. “She’s just that wonderful, loving, caring person. To her, she’s just doing what she loves, but the benefits to others are profound.”
Sosko, who lives with her husband Matthew Sosko and is president of the Greater Pittsburgh/Three Rivers chapter of the Association of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurses, says she’s able to do all she does because of the support of her coworkers, who share her love for the work. Toni Cella, a fellow senior professional staff nurse who’s worked alongside Sosko for five years, calls her a leader among their peers.
“We have kids that can easily crash quickly, and it takes a team effort to get them stabilized again,” Cella says. “She’s always jumping to the front of the line to help out in any way she can.”
She’s also an “amazing advocate for patients,” Cella says, often showing she cares even outside hospital walls at fundraisers and finding special ways to support the kids and their families.
“She’s just a good person, simply put,” Cella says.