Sept. 11, 2017
Nurse gets thrill of challenge every day working to his full scope of practice
Best job you’ve had
"This is a challenging question to answer because I've only worked on one unit as an RN, however, there are multiple roles that I fill on Unit 112 - Clinical Neurosciences.
My favourite role that I commonly fill is that of the "TPA nurse." Whenever EMS picks up someone in the community who appears to be suffering from stroke-like symptoms, I get a page and have to rush down to meet the patient in the CT scanner as they come through the ER. While the patient is getting their CT done, I quickly obtain the patient's history to determine what brought them in. I then collaborate with our stroke team physicians who, based on the results of the CT, may decide to order a powerful blood thinner medication called TPA. If the stroke is caused by a blood clot, and the physician asks me to, I mix the dose of TPA, calculating the dose by the patient's weight, and we start to administer the drug as fast as possible. The phrase "time is brain" is our motto on the stroke team because for each minute the brain doesn't get oxygenated blood, millions of neurons die. Following TPA administration, if the stroke team thinks it could be effective, I also assist in monitoring the patient's vital signs and administering various medications in the Angio Cath Lab, while the stroke team, anaesthetist and interventional radiologist attempt to manually remove the blood clot.
This is my favourite role because I am able to utilize my full scope of practice, working collaboratively with physicians, diagnostic imaging technicians, EMS, other nurses and the patient's family. I love the rush of working quickly in the effort to save a life and reduce risk of brain injury in real time."
Your dream nursing job
"Again, another difficult question to answer because there is so much variability in the nursing profession. I think the best way to answer this question is just by saying, my dream nursing job is something that I constantly feel challenged by. Feeling challenged in our jobs is what gives us meaning and drive to do better each and every day. I love working in areas of high acuity, with dynamic patient populations, and areas that allow me to both learn and teach others."
Best piece of advice you have ever been given
" 'Let it go.' In the nursing profession we run across all different types of people, families and situations, some more stressful than others. This stress can lead to burnout in our field, which is something we all feel from time to time.
The best advice I ever received is just to not take things personally. We are working with people in difficult situations with their own stressors. Sometimes those people can lash out and want to blame nursing staff for things that are stressing them out. The best way to cope with these kind of stressors at work is just to let it go and don't be bothered by it. Don't bring any negative stress home with you at the end of the day; let it go as you walk off the floor."
Who are your real-life heroes?
"Patients and their families are my real life heroes. Certainly not all patients, but every now and then you will run across a group of truly remarkable people who are facing the worst of situations. Teenagers with brain cancer, single parents with spine trauma, new moms with aneurysms - the list goes on and on. Unfortunately, in my job as a neuro nurse, I see some of the nicest people facing the most challenging diagnoses on a daily basis. It is when those patients meet their challenges head on, working extremely hard to beat what they came to my unit for. I get to watch patients come in with an injury or cancer diagnosis, go through surgery, work their way through rehabilitation and achieve success that allows them to continue meaningful lives afterwards. The strength and fortitude of some of my patients is what gives me the strength to get up every morning and come in to work."
What quality do you think every nurse should have?
"Another difficult question to answer because nurses need to have a bunch of qualities to be successful.
Something that I've found extremely important while teaching students and actively learning myself is that the most important quality to be successful is having the willingness to learn. I always tell students: "I don't expect you to know everything, you just have to be willing to ask questions and seek out the answers when you don't know something.”
I think the other quality that goes along with an active desire to learn is the quality of bravery. Bravery is important in nursing, not only to face the stresses of patient care with a smile on your face, but because of how we handle fear. The feeling of fear is something that I encourage all nurses to embrace. When we are afraid, nervous, anxious, etc., we are at a heightened level of awareness. Fear can come in a variety of forms in nursing: being anxious about the challenges of a new job, being unsure about a new patient population or a new diagnosis, even being nervous about practicing a new skill. When we meet fear of the unknown with the bravery to give our best, it promotes lifelong learning and builds better nurses."
What is your personal credo/motto?
" 'Be better tomorrow than I am today.' This doesn't mean that I'm doing poorly today, it just means I strive to push myself to be better at my job each day. This could mean learning something new, completing a task faster while maintaining quality or working on intrapersonal skills. Regardless of what my day looks like, there is always an opportunity for self-improvement."
UCalgary Nursing’s online mentoring program connecting alumni RNs with student nurses for professional and personal growth. To find out more, visit nursing.ucalgary.ca/alumni/nursementor