Anna Aluf, NP, one of the Berrie Center’s Pediatric Diabetes Nurse Educators, had a long journey to the United States and the Berrie Center starting from her birthplace of Polatsk, Belarus in 1983.
By the time Anna was 8 years old, she had witnessed the collapse of the Soviet Union, immigrated with her family to Israel (where the Gulf War had just begun) and by age 10 immigrated for the second time, this time to Northern New Jersey, where her family moved, “looking for somewhere peaceful to live,” she recalled, “so my brother and I could have a good education and a better life.”
Their missions were accomplished. Anna received both her Bachelors and her Masters degrees in Nursing from Rutgers University. (Her brother, a graduate of Columbia College, is a dentist.) Anna’s mother was a nurse in Russia, and Anna loved taking care of kids as a babysitter in high school, so pediatrics was a logical career choice, she said. She first became a nurse and then earned her Nurse Practitioner degree.
“Right out of nursing school I worked in a pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) in New Jersey and continued to work in the PICU for many years,” said Anna. “You see a lot of good outcomes, but you see a lot of sadness.” She also saw children in severe diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) a life-threatening (and often preventable) complication of type 1 diabetes. “These kids were really, really sick, but they were going to get better and go on to live normal lives,” she said. “To me, that’s what makes it so rewarding to take care of kids with diabetes. You can see them in a crisis and then through a crisis and finally get them to a point where they’re comfortable with their condition. There’s nothing else like it from a clinician’s point of view.”
Here’s what pediatric diabetes specialist Rachelle Gandica, MD, had to say about working with Anna: “She is an enormous asset to our team She is incredibly hardworking, and having previously been a nurse in a pediatric intensive care unit, she can certainly multitask and prioritize her work! Parents love her, and I feel that she is particularly gifted in caring for families with young toddlers with diabetes. Toddlers and young children with diabetes have particular challenges, and Anna is able to address them effectively and ease the parents’ worries.”
Anna believes the source of success in her life has been her close-knit family. “We had nothing except each other,” Anna said about growing up. “My parents sacrificed everything just to bring us here. I still want to make them proud.”