Nikki Karash’s Path in Becoming a Nurse Influenced by Physician Mentor

May 6, 2024
Mike Ralston
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Nikki Karash, RN, BSN, knew she wanted to become a nurse when she served as a Medical Assistant/Phlebotomist at a cancer center clinic in Fort Collins. It was her first healthcare job and she fell in love with direct patient care and enjoyed the daily work with her colleagues.   

She worked at the cancer center clinic for nearly five years. The physician and physician assistant (PA) she was assigned to work with were always sharing their knowledge and encouraged her to continue her education and become a nurse. 

“The physician/PA were incredible, compassionate, empathetic, sympathetic, and truly cared about the outcome with the patients. We would cry, laugh, hug, sing, and pray with each other and our patients as they navigated through their cancer journey.”

“I didn’t think I had what it took as a single mom at 19-years-old, but I signed up for my first prerequisites and started my journey to become a nurse,” adds Karash.

Gaining Invaluable Experience in a Hospital Setting

Nikki earned Bachelor’s degrees in Healthcare Administration and Nursing, and graduated from nursing school in 2013. Her first job after graduating nursing school was as a night nurse in a Long Term Acute Care Hospital (LTACH), which is a step down ICU for patients who end up on ventilators for an extended period of time. The hospital was attached to an acute rehab hospital that specialized in neuro and stroke patients. 

“I was able to float between the two depending on the needs of the hospital. My career there evolved as I became a Charge Nurse, Clinical Compliance Specialist, Director of Nursing, and eventually the Director of Compliance.” 

Nikki left the hospital setting to have more work/life balance and landed her first home health position as a Case Manager for a Family Caregiver Program in 2019. She has since worked as a Director of Nursing for a few home health agencies, which is her current role at Solace Pediatric Healthcare.

Embracing the Culture, Staff Collaboration at Solace

As Director of Nursing at Solace Pediatric Healthcare, Nikki helps direct the functions of the Nursing department, including Nurse Care Managers, Clinical Managers, Family CNAs and In-Home Support Services (IHSS) attendants. 

Her day-to-day workflow never looks the same, which is another reason why she enjoys her role at Solace Pediatric Healthcare. It’s very dependent on the departmental needs and support the clinical team requires for that day. 

Niagra FallsNikki oversees staffing, retention, and overall clinical development and compliance of the department. She also reviews referrals for admission criteria, reviews plan of cares, submits hours to Medicaid for approval and additional justifications when needed to ensure patients and families are receiving the care they need. In addition, she prepares clinicians for surveys, ensuring the department follows state and federal regulations.  

“I am here to support the clinical team in any way possible so they can provide their best care when it comes to taking care of the patients/families we serve,” adds Karash. 

“I love our patients and families. The Family Caregiver Program is truly life changing for these families and being able to be a part of that is so rewarding! The population we serve have long term, chronic diagnoses so they really become like extended family. As a nurse who worked in a hospital, that’s one thing I didn’t realize I was missing until I came into home health. You get to be a part of these patients/families and see them grow. I also absolutely love the team we have built! Every single person on the FCS team is so talented, smart, funny, caring, and has the same passion that I do in helping these families and children live their best lives.”

Nikki has been impressed with the culture at Solace Pediatric Healthcare since she joined the team a few years ago.  

“From the very first day, everyone I've had the pleasure of working with is so incredibly helpful, smart, patient, and kind. I love the collaboration between the different departments and how flexible everyone has been with all the changes we've had in our FCS department. The leaders at Solace have integrity, compassion, respect, accountability, and truly take the time to listen and problem solve alongside you.”

Personal Accomplishments, Mentor Support

Nikki’s proudest accomplishments are family and earning her degrees. In her spare time, Nikki enjoys reading and spending time with family, which includes her husband, children and grandson. She also tries to visit one of Colorado’s many rivers, lakes and hikes once a year.

“No one really tells you how tough it will be trying to navigate school, while working full-time so you can still provide for your kiddos, but I would do it all over again!”

HikeHer biggest inspiration is Dr. Regina Brown, the physician she worked with at the cancer center clinic. Dr. Brown encouraged her to be the best version of herself. She pushed her to go back to school for nursing, and embraced the role of supporting her through the process knowing she didn't have support anywhere else and a son to raise.

“I would drop my son off to her at 5:30 am some mornings so I could make it to the hospital on time to do clinicals. She would feed him breakfast and get him to school before heading to the clinic. She paid for my textbooks, and would help me study when I needed the extra help. She didn't have to do any of those things, but she saw something in me that I didn't and she didn't let that go. I can honestly say I wouldn't be where I am today if it wasn't for her. It's so incredibly rare to find individuals like her! She has still remained my friend almost 20 years later and someone I can call if I ever need anything because she really does have a heart of gold.” 

Nikki’s Three Tips for New Nurses

  1. Learn every day! I have been a nurse for over 10 years and I always keep an open mind to learn and absorb new things. Healthcare is constantly changing and so should we!

  2. Encourage each other! I know there’s a saying that “nurses eat their young”, and I can honestly say I experienced that as a new grad working in a hospital. It was because of those experiences that I told myself I would never allow myself to be that type of nurse. I always encourage, teach, and nurture nurses I get the pleasure of working with so we can grow together.

  3. Always be honest! We are all human and we all make mistakes, even as nurses. Having the integrity of owning up to your mistakes so they can be corrected is always most important. We have the lives of patients in our hands and they deserve the best possible care, treatment, and support we can offer!

Contact Us

Solace Pediatric Healthcare is proud to be a part of the Care Options for Kids Community, the leading provider of pediatric nursing, family caregiver, occupational, physical, speech, and feeding therapy services. Since 2005, our clinicians have provided pediatric care to children from birth to 21 years of age. At Care Options for Kids, we’ve instilled a culture built on trust, communication, teamwork, and accountability.

We’re always looking for passionate individuals to join our growing team. To view our complete list of job openings, simply, visit the Careers section on our website.