AACN News—November 1999—Opinions

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Vol. 16, No. 11, NOVEMBER 1999

President’s Note: Practicing Passion Is the Heart and Soul of the Critical Care Nurse

AACN President Anne W. Wojner (third from right), an associate professor at the University of Texas-Houston, School of Nursing, was joined by students enrolled in her critical care course, (from left) John Sanchez, Elizabeth Hermann, Elizabeth Klaimy, Jennifer Clifton, Joyce Downs, Stephanie Oshbahr, Tracy Hurd and Kenyon Daniel.

Do you remember when it first hit you that you wanted to be a critical care nurse? I remember it vividly. I was completing a required semester of critical care nursing at Mountainside Hospital School of Nursing, in Montclair/Glen Ridge, N.J., where I was a diploma RN nursing student. My instructor, Lorraine Sciara, was incredibly smart, skilled and great at explaining challenging material. I remember being a bit overwhelmed, but loving every minute of my time in the ICU. By the end of the rotation, I was hooked, and when the yearbook committee asked me what type of nursing I would be entering after graduation, I proudly responded,

“I am going to be a critical care nurse.”

Becoming a critical care nurse is a decision that I have never regretted. During my more than 21 years of practice, I certainly have witnessed significant change.

However, the awesome power associated with clinical nursing in the critical care unit continues to impress me, just as it first did. For me, there is nothing in nursing more spiritually healing and enjoyable than spending time at the bedside. I just can’t seem to get enough of it and, frankly, I know I would be miserable in a role that denied me time in clinical nursing practice.

This past spring, I had the privilege of teaching and mentoring senior BSN nursing students in the critical care unit. I found myself wondering whether they would feel as I do about our practice specialty. Following are their impressions of critical care nursing as they prepared to graduate and pursue their own careers in nursing:

I was so impressed with the way that the nurses and other staff in the ICU worked together as a team to meet patient and family needs. I especially liked the challenge of the high patient acuity, which really made me think critically about everything I had to do for my patient.
—John Sanchez, RN, BSN

Critical care nursing stimulates you to pull together very complex pieces of physiologic and psychosocial data; it’s like solving a mystery or gathering all the pieces of a difficult puzzle to finally see the big picture. It really makes me feel like I’m making a difference in the lives of others.
—Elizabeth Klaimy, RN, BSN

What I want most to do as a nurse is provide compassion and support to people when they are at their most vulnerable. I want to do all that I can to restore their quality of life physically, mentally and spiritually. Critical care nursing provides me with this opportunity.
—Joyce Downs, RN, BSN

The commitment demonstrated by the ICU nurses that I worked with, was remarkable! It is inspiring to be around people who work so hard and care so much.
—Kenyon Daniel, RN, BSN

There are so many reasons to be a critical care nurse: The learning environment of the ICU, the close patient and family contact, the teamwork and, yes, the adrenaline rush of it all!
—Elizabeth Hermann, RN, BSN

The ability to intensely care for two patients provides a unique learning experience that will help me to build my expertise in nursing. The ICU nurse: patient ratio gives me more time to get to know my patient and family, and puts me in a better position to meet their needs.
—Stephanie Osbahr, RN, BSN

These powerful comments reflect the importance and significance of critical care nursing. Rereading these comments reinforces for me that the bedside nurse, the staff nurse, has one of the most important roles in the healthcare system.

Nursing is a practice profession. Whether we work on the front lines or support the troops off site, each of us must stay passionately committed to the bedside.

Staff nurses can make it or break it for us as a specialty nursing profession. They are the ones who have direct contact with patients, families and the majority of the interdisciplinary care team; they are the ones who hold fragile lives in their hands and soothe the souls of those entrusted to their care; and they are the ones who ultimately play the most significant role in recruiting new nurses to critical care. When we support staff nurses, we contribute to developing the kind of nurturing caregivers and scientists that each of these new graduates cited in their commentary.

To those of you on the front lines, thank you for stimulating several more new graduates to take that first giant step into critical care nursing. You have given each of them the precious gift of critical care nursing, just as Lorraine gave it to me many years ago.


Transport Services Must Meet High Standards
I appreciate the article titled “Transport Decisions Require Input of the Bedside Nurse” (September 1999, AACN News). I am one of the chief flight nurses for Mercy Air Service, which provides rotor wing medical transport in Southern California and Nevada. Mercy is one of 71 medical services in the United States and Canada that is accredited by CAMTS (Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems). My area of responsibility is San Bernardino County, which covers more than 20,000 square miles of desert and mountains.

The need for quality, rapid transport in an unforgiving environment is self-evident. It is extremely important that transport services meet and adhere to quality standards in the industry. I am proud of the fact that Mercy Air Service has made the decision to meet the CAMTS standard of quality.

Richard D. Staggs, RN, BSN, CCRN, MICN
Apple Valley, Calif.

Prevention the Solution in Third-World Countries
As a member of AACN for more than a decade, I was impressed with the recent article that shared the specific healthcare concerns of the citizens of Nigeria.

My husband was born in Owerri, Nigeria, and was particularly impressed with the generosity and abundant caring displayed
by your team. I am planning to make copies of your article to disseminate to his cousins in the U.S., as well as to hundreds of
business colleagues who have similar missions in Mexico and Korea. Our church supports 45 missionaries in 20 countries, from Zambia to Spain.

Prevention is the solution in these less developed countries. Thank you so much for bringing the real issues of healthcare in Nigeria to light.

Alma Ingram-Nlemadim, RN, CCRN, MPA
San Antonio, Tex.

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