I am a Registered Nurse in the Level 1 Trauma Emergency Room at Johnson City Medical Center. We manage an enormous array of patients, ranging from runny noses to cardiac arrests, and everything in between. I have to be able to walk out of a room of a patient whose leg I splinted after a sports accident and into the next room to attempt to restart someone’s heart. It’s a very humbling position because it reminds me daily that I am not promised tomorrow.
Prior to my position at Johnson City Medical Center, I was employed at Laughlin Memorial Hospital in the Emergency Room for approximately a year and a half. I was blessed with an amazing team of nurses who were more than willing to guide and teach me the many things I lacked as a new professional. During my time at PBA, I had the amazing opportunity to intern at the V.A. Medical Center and rotate throughout all the specialty units. I was able to master specific skills in each specialty and pull them all together to provide better care for my patients in the emergency room. You never know what’s going to come through the doors, so an ER nurse really needs to be specialized in everything.
I knew from the beginning of nursing school that I wanted to do critical care. This unfortunately led to an unequal amount of effort that I put into my classes. I selectively studied for the courses that I thought were the most relevant to my future career. Little did I realize that I would need a deep understanding of psychiatric, pediatric, and even obstetric nursing if I wanted to be a well-rounded Emergency Room Nurse. That was my initial obstacle I had to overcome when I started out.
"Don't neglect any class material because you 'think' you'll never use it in the 'real world'."
PBA’s nursing curriculum and professors were top-notch and, in my opinion, some of the best in the country. They prepared me for things that most new nurses lack: great assessment skills, critical thinking, and most importantly empathizing with patients and families. They taught me how to look at the big picture and not just the minute details, which is crucial for an Emergency Room Nurse. During my senior year, PBA secured me an internship at St. Mary’s Medical Center in their Level 1 Trauma Operating Room. This internship gave me the confidence to manage critical patients and perform complex procedures. I was then able to perform with ease as a new graduate in the Emergency Room.
Don’t neglect any class material because you “think” you’ll never use it in the “real world”. The reality is that you never know what you’ll need to know until you need to know it, and then it could be too late - especially in healthcare. Never forget why you started, because sometimes that is what will help you get through a shift when you are questioning your career choice. Above all, never turn down the opportunity to learn something new. I’ve been a nurse for over a year and I still learn at least three new medically relevant things every day. A great nurse is a teachable nurse.
Since day one I have had multiple mentors. The one that specifically stands out is my previous charge nurse, Lisa West. While everyone I worked with was great about teaching me something new, she took me under her wing and was always looking out for me. She made sure that I was never in-over-my-head by myself; if I had a critical patient, she was right by my side. She, and all my coworkers, have continuously encouraged me on my professional journey.
Spotlight posted in April 2018. For more information about John, visit his LinkedIn page.