In my eyes, being the bedside nurse is a great privilege with great personal rewards
You can say a lot of things to Cindy Bohmont. She’s very engaging and likely to join you in conversation. But in the back-and-forth of witty banter, please don’t tell her, even flippantly, to get a life. Bohmont, BSN, RN, MEd, CCRN, CCRN-CSC, is a 1971 graduate of the University of Nebraska who has worked at Mercy Springfield Hospital for 45 years and been a certified CCRN for all 40 years of its existence.
But that’s just her day job. She’s also a boxing coach and official – and a highly decorated one at that, Harley Davidson rider, ATV junkie, trap-shooting expert and also helps her husband tend to their cattle ranch. Oh, she also works at St. Rose San Martin Hospital in Las Vegas, just to, you know, pass the time.
So, yeah, she’s kind of living one of those “been-there, done-that” lives.
But like many in our community of exceptional nurses, compassionate caregiving was in her head long before she actually began practicing at the bedside.
“I decided to become a nurse the summer I was 14,” she recalled. “I was in 4-H and our bus wrecked on the way home from summer camp, killing a man and injuring many of the kids. Fortunately, I wasn’t hurt, but I decided at that point that I never wanted to be in the position that I couldn't help someone because I didn't know how.
Becoming a Nurse
“Hence, I went to the University of Nebraska’s School of Nursing and here I am in critical care. I have been at Mercy Springfield for 45 years, and a CCRN for 40 years. Our ICU family is so special. We truly take care of each other as well as the patients.”
As one might imagine, with the knowledge and expertise ascertained over the course of a lengthy career, Bohmont might be tempted to apply such learning beyond to the bedside, but she’ll have none of that.
“I love being a bedside nurse. It makes me feel good to be able to connect with the sickest of the sick and be able to make them feel better, and most generally get better. I keep my skills sharp and my education current to be able to better serve them. My goal is to like that person I see in the mirror at the end of my day because I did the very best I could for those in my care.
In my eyes, being the bedside nurse is a great privilege with great personal rewards. I hear many of the newer nurses saying things like they don't want to ‘wipe butts for very long; they are going to be a practitioner,’ or whatever their aspirations are. Well, when we get all these directors, and no one to play the violins, where will that poor patient be? I fear that the day of the ‘laying on of the hands’ is quickly fading away.”
If you get the idea Bohmont is passionate about her work, you have no idea. It’s actually a trait that is consistent through anything she does in life. But particularly in her nursing.
“I have cared for a great many patients over the years, and I try to do absolutely everything I can to make their ICU experience as positive as possible, and we all know how difficult that can be,” she said. “One day I was in a department store, and a lady came up to me and said ‘Cindy! It's you! You took care of me in ICU when I had my surgery! You were so kind. And I want you to know how wonderful you were to wash my hair that day! I felt so nasty and you made me feel so good. Thank you!’”
“Now, I had no idea how important that little thing was to her. I doubt that we realize how the little things affect people. We all need to continue to do those little things as well as the big things we all do. But to just think about the little things we can do to make these patients’ days just a little bit better, so much so that they remember these little things so much later? That’s the good stuff.”
Shortly after beginning her nursing career, Bohmont began seeking for further advancement – without leaving her patients. The answer came just at the right time in 1976.
“Certification arrived about when I had my little feet pretty well on the ground and was looking around for another way to grow,” she explained. “I didn't want to leave the bedside, and I had always read the AACN journals, and here came CCRN (when it was first launched in 1976). There was a Master’s' program at the university, but it was not in anything even close to nursing.
“I learned a lot studying the manual for CCRN. I got my CCRN for my personal growth, and it caught on with my co-workers pretty quickly. I think it is a wonderful tool for credentialing nurses that don't choose to leave the bedside and become advanced practice folks. It validates that the nurse is educated and has made the step to obtain the credentialing from a national organization.
“When I first took the exam for my CCRN, I had to travel 300 miles to Kansas City to sit for the exam. Remember, most of us were struggling when we first started in the nursing profession with finances, so it was indeed an effort for me. But the challenge of obtaining the credential was too much to pass up. When I passed that exam, it was a huge validation that I was on the right track in my career.”
Nursing and … Boxing?
If you scratching your head wondering how someone so passionate about caring for patients’ well-being can be equally passionate about a sport espousing the legal rearranging of opponents’ facial soft tissue, well, you’re not alone. But Bohmont isn’t party to the portrayed paradox.
“Most people think of boxing as a vicious sport because most people don't understand the sport,” she said.” “There are fewer injuries in boxing than in most other sports, especially amateur boxing. Everyone knows someone with a ‘football knee’ or ‘tennis elbow,’ but do you know anyone that has been injured in amateur boxing? In my gym, it isn't even about boxing, although they learn how to make points and defend and block. It's about discipline, feeling good about yourself, fitness, good nutrition, fair play, self-esteem and being part of a team.
“The kids are all members of our gang. My gym was at the Boys and Girls Club for years, and those kids were so much at risk for all the bad things in the world. I was the only ‘normal’ woman many of them knew, and goodness, I'm not normal. It has been good for my soul to be able to step from caring for the sickest of the sick to working with these healthy kids and young adults.”
And, it’s something she’s proved to be very good at.
“Well, I recently got back (in October, 2016) from the National Junior Golden Gloves Boxing Tournament in Mesquite, Nevada, where I was chosen as Outstanding Official of the NJGG tournament. I am certified by USA Boxing, the governing body of amateur boxing, as a Level 3 Official (as high as you can go without becoming an International Official, which I chose not to do). I have been certified as a Level 4 coach for several years. But I can coach at national events, and I was chosen several years ago to take the USA team to Toronto for the USA/CANADA duel. I was also chosen as Greater Kansas City Golden Gloves Coach of the Year several years ago. I have had several national champions over the years, and love this sport.”
Naturally, and unfortunately, the medical and boxing backgrounds did collide in one tragedy.
“No one will ever forget the night we were at a regional boxing competition and one of the super-heavyweight boxers dropped to the canvas unresponsive following the fight he had just won. I hopped into the ring and started CPR with the ring doctor. It took the paramedics 20-30 minutes to get to the ring from the local hospital and take over his care. We had him going, but he died at the hospital. We later found out his brother had just died the week before of a sudden massive MI, just like his father did years ago. And this 34-year-old boxer had the same genetics and the same massive MI.”
Lots of Other Fun
But if you think boxing is all she does for fun, you’re mistaken.
“What do I like to do?” she asked. “Lots of stuff. Just for kicks and grins, I also ride a Harley Davidson motorcycle. And I shoot trap and skeet and sporting clays. I've won 32 shotguns, rifles and handguns shooting in charity shoots. Also, we recently converted part of our 1,100-acre ranch into an ATV/UTV motorpark, so of course I have to go riding once in a while. I have always helped on the ranch with the cattle, hay, seed, etc. So needless to say, my days are filled to the brim. And that is the key to not burning out in nursing. You have to have other things enriching your life, whatever it is. You have to have things that are healthy and matter to you.
“So that you can matter to your patients.”