Those who work with Ashley Schultz call her a beloved nurse. She is kind with a dry sense of humor. She is caring, yet tough.
The scene is different at night inside Methodist Hospital. A quiet place where shadows lurk. An intense place where, at any moment, chaos could ensue.
Ashley Schultz adores working those wee hours of the night where life seems so delicate – the patients so vulnerable.
As a night nurse in in the surgical trauma intensive care unit, Schultz sees the worst of the worst. She cares for the sickest of the sick.
Her patients are victims of stabbings and gunshot wounds. People who have been assaulted or suffered injuries in horrific car accidents.
It’s an adrenaline rush to work until she is weary caring for those patients — once they are out of surgery. And Schultz does her job remarkably.
Those who work with Schultz call her a “standout” nurse. She is kind with a dry sense of humor. She is caring, yet tough.
And hers is a patient population that, at times, needs tough love. Her patients may be homeless or drug addicts. They may not have family support.
“Sometimes you have to tell them they should be grateful,” says Schultz. “That they’re here, they’re alive and we’re going to help you get better if you work with us.”
The outcomes aren’t always happy, though. The surgical trauma ICU is a place of high acuity.
“We deal with a lot of poor outcomes, so you have to build the wall,” Schultz says. “But for every sad case, you get those positive cases that reassure you. This is what I was meant to do.
She grew up in Windsor, Vermont, a girl destined to be a star athlete.
Schultz, who calls herself a tomboy, started playing baseball when she was 4 years old. She was good enough to play with the boys – and she liked it. By third grade, she started field hockey.
In high school, she played basketball, golf, softball and field hockey. In the latter, she was a state champion.
Her parents, a father who managed hotels and a mother who worked for the U.S. Postal Service, never missed one of her or her brother’s games. On Sundays, they would drive into Boston to catch a Celtics, Red Sox or Bruins game.
After graduation, Schultz headed off to Indiana University, where she started as a pre-med major. She ended up graduating with a degree in public health education.
While at IU, she met her husband, Derek Schultz, a perfect match. He, too, was a sports lover and the two bonded over friendly baseball banter. She is an avid Boston Red Sox fan; he a New York Yankees fan.
When the couple moved to Indianapolis, Schultz deiced to go back to school. She had all the credits to get a nursing degree in short order.
“I fell into nursing,” she says. “But then I realized, I loved it. Being a nurse is my favorite thing outside of my family.”
Three years ago, Schultz came to Methodist and worked on the surgical trauma floor. About a year ago, she moved to the surgical trauma ICU.
She works three 12-hour night shifts each week, 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Her favorite patients are those that come in really sick and have remarkable recovery.
“Any time you see full circle success stories, it’s always awesome,” she says.
More with Schultz
Personal: She is married to Derek, co-host of the Indianapolis afternoon sports radio talk show Query & Schultz. The couple have one son, James, a year and a half old.
Outside of Methodist: Schultz loves spending time with her family. They like to go out to eat and try new restaurants and, of course, love going to and watching sporting events.
After trauma ICU: “I love end of life care,” she says. “When I’m not able to be a floor nurse anymore, I want to do hospice. I hate people not being with somebody at the end. I like being there and taking care of people in their final time.”
— By Dana Benbow, Senior Journalist at IU Health.
Reach Benbow via email email@example.com or on Twitter @danabenbow.