Inspiring Nurses

March Nurse Feature

IMG_0647

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

 

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 mission in the Philippines.  Thanks for taking the time to read!!  Now for some wine