Meet Riot Healer: Jackie Camardo

February 27, 2021

Meet Riot Healer: Jackie Camardo

Jackie here, the founder, creator, and artist behind Riot Healers.

I am excited to kick off our feature section of the blog highlighting healthcare workers and students. I hope you find value reading the unique stories and perspectives here! Let's jump in.

Background + Degree

Originally from the near-west side of Chicago, I have dedicated my life and career as a nurse serving my community. Currently, I work as a full-time practicing faculty member at the UIC College of Nursing. I have a Bachelor's Degree in Anatomy and Physiology from the University of Connecticut, a Master's Degree in Nursing, and a Doctoral Degree in Nursing Practice from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic I have also worked as a public health nurse.

My doctoral work and research focuses on mindfulness as a tool for the mental health of nurses and providers in a post-pandemic world. 

Few words to describe yourself? 

Feisty, creative, and adventurous. A true introverted, extrovert.

Why healthcare?

I am one of those people who always knew I would go into healthcare.

When I was seven years old, my baby sister Julia joined the family, but unexpectedly was unable to come home from the hospital. Julia was born with a heart complication known as patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), an unclosed hole in the aorta that is supposed to simultaneously close at birth. In other words, she was born with a hole in her heart. After a few weeks, Julia’s heart healed and she was finally able to come home without any further surgeries or medications. My parents said the doctors and nurses saved her life.

From that moment on, I knew I wanted to spend my life doing exactly that for other people and their families. 

Why nursing? Unlike other paths in healthcare, nursing is equally an art and a science. It gives you a deep understanding of the body and disease, but more importantly the human condition. There are few career choices as selfless, honorable, and rewarding as becoming a nurse. I will always be grateful for a set of skills that can truly help others, and the endless opportunities to affect individuals, communities and the world.

Career Goals + Aspirations?

I am a Chicago girl through and through, so I envision myself working in urban community clinics or health centers in any of the medically underserved areas close by. There is so much I hope to accomplish in my career- from primary practice to research and teaching, to addressing social justice issues including food security and gun violence in relation to health. I hope with the DNP I can continue to advocate for patients in the primary care settings and legislative arena.
On top of that, I hope to build this platform at Riot Healers to amplify the many voices in healthcare helping to close the unequal healthcare gap.

Outside of healthcare, a few of your favorite things?

I am a proud feminist and have the soul of a wood-stock going flower child. I love my garden, cozy coffee shops, cooking at home and creating art whenever and wherever I can.

An organization, non-profit, charity, or social justice topic you are passionate about?

Since before the pandemic, I have been an active volunteer at IGrow Chicago, a nonprofit based out of the Englewood neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. Through programming that takes place directly in Englewood, IGrow works to address the root causes of trauma and structural violence.

Recently I was named an Albert Schweitzer Fellow where I will design, implement and evaluate a community-based health prevention project focused on serving IGrow's population! If you are interested in learning more, check out this video to see how they have adapting to meeting the community's needs during the pandemic. 

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