Foreign Nurse Feature: A South African Nurse

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I developed  wanderlust at a young age, but didn’t start nurturing it until I was older and able.  The most amazing part of my journey has been meeting so many fascinating people from every corner of the globe.  In this month’s foreign feature, we meet Betina-a young and enthusiastic nurse from South Africa.  In our interview, one could not help but be infected with her enthusiasm for nursing.  It is clear Betina has found her calling and interestingly enough as we will find, it was by way of a detour.

How long have you been a nurse?

I started my training in January of 2009 and graduated in December of 2012 at the University of Johannesburg.  I started my community service at Steve Biko Academic Hospital and worked there for two and a half years. I believe that although I was not yet qualified as a student, I was a nurse, because during our training we work with patients to accumulate the needed hours to qualify as a Registered Nurse, therefore I have been privileged to touch the lives of patients and their families for 7 years.

In what area of Nursing do you work?

I found my passion and the area in which I wanted to specialize during my training and since I graduated I’ve been working with the little miracles in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. I can’t describe the immense amount of belonging I feel when nursing these small and innocent beings. They are so vulnerable and completely powerless, yet such strong and determined fighters. I learn something new from them on a daily basis. We spend most of our lives at work, therefore finding a career where you want to get up in the mornings is of the utmost importance and I am truly blessed when I say that I am convinced I have found that, not only in the NICU, but in being a nurse.

What inspired you to be a nurse?

Since I was a little girl, I found myself playing “doctor doctor” where I would be the one taking care of the “sick patient” and being the eldest grandchild, I was always the one taking care of my sister and cousins when we were growing up. I suppose caring is in my nature. I have to be honest though and say that I didn’t always want to be a nurse, because in our culture being a nurse is looked down upon.  I wanted to become a doctor, but those doors didn’t open for me until someone told me to do nursing, get my foot in the door (so to speak) and then I could do a bridging course and become a physician.  Little did I know that in studying nursing I found where I belong and who I was destined to become. I no longer believe that nursing is a career to be looked down upon…in fact I am determined to change that perspective and rather have people realize that it is a profession where we make a difference on a daily basis, twenty four hours and that the health care system would not exist without us. Needless to say, I no longer wish to become a physician, although I respect them and love to gain knowledge from them, I feel that I have more of an influence at the bedside, taking care of my patient and knowing every aspect of their being.

What advice would you give to a new nurse?

I would tell them that being a nurse is more than just having a job to pay the bills. Being a nurse comes with the responsibility to care for another human being when they are in their most vulnerable state. Being a nurse means that you need to be passionate and professional, not only at work, but also at home and in the public, because we are looked to whether we have our uniform on or not. So my advice is to make sure that nursing is for you, because it is a life-long commitment and then to go out there and be exposed to every possible field of nursing.  Nursing is the one profession with an insane amount of fields and opportunities and places that you can find where you belong, therefore get exposure to as much as possible and then find the place where you feel like you can spend the rest of your life and make a difference there.

What advice would you give to a tired nurse?

Nursing is a physically, emotionally, and spiritually draining profession where patients and the multidisciplinary team demand a lot from us on a daily basis. It is of the utmost importance that you find something outside of nursing that you love and enjoy to do. An activity, where you can unwind and get rid of all the frustrations, turmoil, heartache and troubles which come with our career.  I find exercise and being active to be my ‘sanity’.  In the gym and jogging on the road is where I ventilate, release my emotions and find the strength to continue. I also recently found a love for obstacle racing, there is something about running and digging through mud and challenging myself through the most ridiculous obstacles that energizes me and pushes me past my own limits.  I also ensured that I have a strong support system, people to talk to. I find my best friend and sister to be my pillars of strength. But another piece of advice would be to never lose contact with the friends you studied with. There is a certain level of understanding that comes when one nurse talks to another about a challenge they faced, different to talking to your best friend in another profession and safer than sharing with your colleague.

Thank you for your honest words, wise advice, enthusiasm, and love for your tiny patients Betina!  To read more about Betina, check out my interview with her in Mighty Nurse in the link below.

A Mighty Nurse in South Africa

 

 

 

 

April Nurse Feature: A Nurse Mentor & Friend

“Rest and take care of yourself.  If you don’t, you can’t take care of others.”

FullSizeRender-71Our April nurse feature takes us to my hometown, New Smyrna Beach, Florida. Meet Janet.  Janet was one of my first mentors as a graduate nurse.  She gave me daily pep talks and hugs when I would pass her in the halls at work.  She took me under her wing, pushed me to follow my dream of working in NICU (neonatal intensive care), and trained me when it was my turn to orient.  My hope is that any new graduate nurse has such a mentor.  It was though her guidance and constant encouragement that I found my nursing legs and confidence.

Where are you from?

I am originally from North Carolina, but was raised in New Smyrna Beach, Florida.

In what area of nursing do you work?

I worked primarily in NICU for over 30 years.

How long have you been a nurse?

I received my license in 1981 and retired in 2013, so for 32 years. I didn’t start my career until I was 41 years old.

What inspired you to be a nurse?

It was something I had always wanted to do since a very early age. I just wanted to be a nurse, wife, and, mother.

What advice would you give to a new nurse?

I have a granddaughter who wants to be a NICU nurse.  She just received her RN and got a job in a children’s hospital. I tell her to get her foot in the door and get all the experience she can and watch for opening in NICU- to work and strive to accomplish your dreams.

What advice would you give to a tired nurse?

Rest and take care of yourself.  If you don’t, you can’t take care of others.

What do you do in your spare time?

I try to spend time with my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren and I love to sew.

Thanks so much for sharing, Janet ❤  You are the true definition of nurse!  To read more about Janet and her mission trip to Haiti, check out my latest post with Mighty Nurse below.  It will leave you with a sense of post-retirement inspiration.

Coffee Talk With a Mighty Nurse: Volunteering After Retirement

 

 

 

March Nurse Feature: A Girl on a Mission

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Kristen and Faces of Tomorrow founder and director, Dr. Brian Rubinstein, making a difference ❤

Our March Nurse Feature follows a super inspiring nurse who has volunteered her way across the globe.  For those nurses afflicted by wander lust, meet Kristen.  She is an American nurse with a background in pediatric, newborn, and maternal health.  She currently lives in Romania with her husband and two adorable girls.  She is a founding board member of the non-profit, Faces of Tomorrow, and when she’s not on a mission, she’s planning the next.

I first met Kristen while working as a travel nurse in California.  She has this super infectious and enthusiastic personality like there is just not enough time to get all the things done in life one wants.  I am happy to call her my colleague and friend.

Where are you from?


I was born in Baltimore, Maryland and grew up in Crofton, Maryland. I moved to San  Francisco in 1999 and still consider it HOME. Currently, I’m living in Bucharest, Romania.

In what area of nursing do you work?


Maternal Child Health. I started in Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins Hospital. I worked in various areas of Pediatrics and then started travel nursing at hospitals in the Bay Area.  During that time I worked at UCSF, Stanford Children’s hospital, Oakland Children’s and a few Kaiser hospitals.  I ended up working at Marin General hospital on a travel contract and fell in love with the staff, patients, and hospital.  They offered to train me to work in postpartum, the newborn nursery, and at times the NICU as well as pediatrics.

I love being able to work in multiple areas with women and children. It’s nice to see healthy patients and families at times unlike acute pediatrics.  In addition, I started working at some underserved community clinics with adults and pediatrics to expand my skills and work in community public health.  Being part of the birth of a child and caring for the family right after birth is magical.  However, my heart still belongs to the pediatric patients-it’s my passion.

How long have you been a nurse?

19 years

What inspired you to be a nurse?

I’ve always loved kids and helping others. I’ve worked with kids in various capacities since I was in the 4th grade.  When I was in high school, I had a chance to take a health class and I found it interesting. Then in  college I visited the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D. C. and saw all babies born addicted to drugs. I was crushed and confused. I started volunteering to be a “holder” to comfort the babies withdrawing from cocaine. It was rewarding, heartbreaking, and confusing. It was then I knew that nursing was my true calling.

What advice would you give to a new nurse?

Follow your dreams, continue your education, diversify your skills, and volunteer or work with underserved populations in America and abroad. It’s essential to understand other cultures and to understand the issues within our own cultures and systems. Truly, it can help you be a better provider and empathize and connect with your patients on a much deeper level.

What advice would you give to a tired nurse?

I’m a big believer in self-care. There is a high burn out rate in nursing and without self-care it’s inevitable. I would recommend yoga, meditation, massage, and travel!  It’s not healthy to constantly do shift work, live with sleep deprivation, stressful situations, and the emotions involved with nursing and healthcare related jobs. Actually, I would give the same advice to anyone with any job…self-care is a must!

Thank you Kristen for your contribution!!  See more from my interview with Kristen and on her mission work in my upcoming Mighty Nurse Feature.  There is need everywhere in the world, even in our own cities.  What can you as an individual do to be of service to someone else?  There is an increasing epidemic of drug babies plaguing the U.S.  Find your local volunteer cuddle program and hold and love these babies.  Visit your local nursing home and spend a few hours with an elderly resident that has no family.

“The dedicated enjoy supreme peace. Therefore, live only to serve.”

 Sri Swami Satchidananda

 

 

Nurse Contest

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As a thank you for the last year, I am running a nurse contest!!  Win two pair of adorable Swedish compression stockings!!

Follow Neonurse on Instagram & here to enter the contest.

The winner will be randomly selected and announced March 11. Best of luck!!!! 

 

One Year & Going Strong

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Has it really been one year?!!  A year ago I never imagined that my little blog would give me the opportunity to do something I have always love.  I thought my only supporters would be my parents.  In just the last six months, Neonurse has opened many doors for me.  I can’t thank all my friends, family, and, supporters enough!!!

That’s me 13 years ago after my nursing graduation and pinning ceremony.  Who would have known I would end up traveling the world in search of inspiring people, stories.  Thank you!  Thank you! Thank you!  So humbled ❤

February Nurse Feature

DSC_0002I am super excited to start featuring an amazing group of nurses from around the world.  I have always loved to travel and explore.  In my own travels, I have met some truly inspiring people.  For any adventure seeking nurses out there, this is a post for you.  Today’s feature is a nurse that has made her way around the U.S. and is now living and working in the U.K.  She proves that anything is possible when you put your mind to it.  If you’re contemplating working as a traveler, here is your inspiration.Meet Tonya.  She is a neonatal nurse originally from the U.S.  She started working as a travel nurse,making her way from Florida to California, and has been since somewhat rooted in London, England.  Her next adventure leads her to Belgium.

Where are you from?

I’m originally from Florida.  I did my training in Gainesville at Santa Fe College and my first job was at Shand’s Hospital at the University of Florida.

In what area of nursing do you work? 

I’m currently working in Neonatal ICU, but have previously worked in PICU (Pediatric ICU) and PCICU (Pediatric Cardiac ICU).

How long have you been a nurse? 

14 years

What inspired you to become a nurse?

When I was in high school, my grandmother was diagnosed with Lymphoma. I visited her in the hospital and saw the nurses caring for her.  I was inspired by their compassionate and caring nature.

What advice would you give a new nurse? 

#1  And most important!

Take time to renew and recharge yourself. Our jobs are stressful and heart breaking and no one really prepares you for life as a nurse. Have nursing friends (because they will always understand and be able to commiserate), but have non nursing friends too (because they will keep you sane and stop you from talking about work so much).

#2  

Don’t let old tired nurses get you down or pick on you, tell them where to shove it! We eat our young in this profession and I don’t know why. Find experienced nurses that you trust and feel comfortable asking for advice and guidance.  They are there in your unit and are more than happy to pass on their knowledge.  And just ignore the grumpy bitches that are always complaining.

#3  

Drink Wine!!

What advice would you give a tired nurse?

Take a break because you’re not doing anyone any good by hanging around and possibly making mistakes.  Back to my advice for new nurses, take time to renew and recharge.  Patient safety is always our priority and we make mistakes when we are tired and run down.

How did you end up in London?

So England happened by chance. I met my friend Kate in Boston. She had done her registration for Australia and I had been looking into going to the UK. I kind of talked her into traveling over with me. So we did all the paperwork to get registered in the UK and found the travel company to sponsor us, and the rest is history.

What are some big differences between working in the U.S. and England?

I can’t really remember the differences, it’s been a long time since I’ve worked in the US.  As far as NICU is concerned I think taking care of the babies is the same. The nurse responsibilities and doctors responsibilities are different.  The doctors draw blood and start all the IVs and Picc/Long lines. It’s a different kind of work load. They do weird things like hourly feeds and nurses are responsible for cleaning. It is just all a little different from home.  It’s the equipment and processes that are different. The most annoying thing is working within a public system. At home we are used to efficiency and organization.  It just seems to take so much time to get anything done here.  I do have to say that the follow up care here is excellent. Our unit has an outreach team that follows the babies home which sometimes allows them to go home earlier.  There are also Health Visitors that follow a newborn from birth to 5 years old, so the hospital system is frustrating but the community services are great.

Where to Next?

My next move is to Belgium, for my fiancé’s new job.  I have to learn the language first, but may eventually look into working there.

 

 

Thank you so much, Tonya, for contributing!!  Looking forward to sharing our next feature, a nurse on a mission in the Philippines.  Thanks for taking the time to read!!  Now for some wine ❤

Wellness on the Road

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Happy weekend, friends!  I am super excited to announce that I am starting to write a regular post for The Gypsy Nurse that I like to call “Wellness on the Road.”  It combines my love for wellness and life as a nurse.  The Gypsy Nurse is a great resource for any healthcare professional that travels or is considering traveling.  Below is my first entry.  Hope you like!!

Wellness on the Road ❤