Northwell Health

Naara Zapata, RN, NP, Northwell Health

Naara Zapata

Flight Nursing

Editors’ Note

Prior to her current role, Naara Zapata was a registered nurse in the surgical intensive care unit at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, as well as in the coronary care unit at Saint Francis Hospital on Long Island and the immediate care unit at the State University of New York’s (SUNY) Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse. She received her M.S. from Hofstra University and her B.S. from SUNY Buffalo. Zapata was among 28 members of the first graduating class from the Hofstra Northwell School of Graduate Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies who earned nurse practitioner (NP) degrees in one of three specialties.

Will you discuss your role as a flight nurse at Northwell Health?

When I first came to Northwell Health, I already had some experience. I was hired into a new unit that had a young staff. From the beginning, I was encouraged to use my experience to mentor the younger nurses, and it gave me a great sense of pride to share these experiences and be in an active learning environment.

Feeling that support and encouragement to push and develop younger nurses meant I felt that support and encouragement to push and develop myself as well.

When the opportunity came to do flight nursing, I had to think about what it entailed and if I was capable of doing it. It seemed somewhat overwhelming to leave the bedside and be in a clinical situation where I was not going to be in the hospital with the security of having many resources around.

However, I took it as an opportunity to challenge myself and be a better clinician. In doing that, I learned much more about overcoming fear of change or doing something completely new.

I now have more confidence in my own capabilities and I feel incredibly supported. The investment Northwell Health makes in employees is clear from the start. They remind us of the impact we can have.

While I was there, they made the announcement that they were going to open the graduate school of nursing. It almost seemed to me like it was a story unfolding for me.

Will you highlight the role of the nursing school as part of Northwell Health?

The establishment of the school of nursing was very proactive in addressing the healthcare needs we face. The healthcare of our community requires that we be proactive, not reactive. Historically, we have just treated illness, but that has not achieved the results we desire. We spend so much money on healthcare as a nation while communities get sicker.

We realize we need to change our approach, which is by establishing providers that have the same ideals and approach to healthcare, expanding patients’ access to care, and promoting health and wellness while treating illness.

The school itself is innovative in its approach and educational style. It is built for the self-directed learner. Our school is case-based and each person is expected to become a critical thinker and to develop a plan that is always considerate of individuality and tailored to the care of the specific patient.

We have such a diverse population, so even though guidelines are wonderful, we need to consider individual patient needs.