Escape from war led to dream of nursing


Amela Hrnic knew what she wanted to do at an early age after coming to the United States during a war in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

She knew she wanted to help people.

She was 9 when her parents escaped the war in 1995.

Hrnic went to Dickinson East Elementary and learned English at school.

Now 32, Hrnic works at Harper Hospital as a neurosurgery nurse practitioner.

“I knew I wanted to be a nurse from a very early age,” Hrnic said. “I used to translate when I was very young for my family who had just moved here.”

Her parents couldn’t always understand what the medical professionals were saying, so she helped by translating.

“Seeing healthcare professionals help my family is what made me want to help others,” said Hrnic.

Hrnic meets with her team every day early in the morning to see how the patients are doing and to discuss what is needed by the end of the day.

“Each patient needs something different and requires different tests and procedures,” she said. “Some need surgery and some need clearance medically, others had surgery and need post-operative care.”

Helping people become healthy again is the most rewarding part of the job to Hrnic.

But she also sees people get worse and pass away, which is hard.

According to Hrnic, the nursing field has prepared her well for certain situations because of the versatility of the field.

“You can work in a clinic, in a school, in a hospital, in the community seeing elderly patients at home. Then, of course, there are all the specialties such as orthopedics, dermatology, internal medicine, psychiatry to name a few,” said Hrnic.

Hrnic is a naturally organized person but studying in the medical field has helped her improve her organizational skills, which are critical when monitoring parents.

The relationship between a nurse and her patient is important.

Hrnic said that patients who are not cooperating should not receive more stress regardless of how they behave.

“Listen, try to fix the problem. The last thing a sick person needs is more stress,” said Hrnic. “Try to eliminate and resolve as much stress for them as you can.”

Being a nurse practitioner requires her to work constantly with others.

Occasionally, she will run into doctors or colleagues who might act rude in some situations.

Hrnic said that it’s a good idea to politely speak out about it to a doctor or colleague.

“Otherwise, they won’t realize that they’re being rude,” said Hrnic.

Hrnic has visited Bosnia three times since the war ended.

She doesn’t feel homesick, because most of her family lives in the United States and she has spent most of her life here.

“This is home now,” said Hrnic.

Hrnic loves her current work environment and feels it gives more options to patients than other hospitals do.

“Our specialists exceed most other hospitals,” said Hrnic. “We also take many more health insurance plans than most other places, which gives patient a way to be seen and treated.”

Hrnic has been in the field for eight years and knows she chose the right path for herself as a child.