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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The impact it had on me....

I thought about breaking this up into 2 different posts, but it needed to flow, so here it is.
 I hope you enjoy reading a little bit about my career as a nurse.

The IMPACT, not on what I may have done in my 35 years of nursing, 
but the IMPACT nursing has had on me.
Today marks 35 years of service as an RN at Mayo Clinic.
Through the years I have been impacted by many things...
Patients, Doctors, Co-workers, & Technology to name a few...
In the course of those 35 years, I have changed jobs at Mayo 6 times
Most of my career at St. Mary's hospital, 4 years at Methodist Hospital and now 
finally at Mayo herself where I hope to work a few more year until retirement.
Where Mayo meets Gonda.

As I ponder over my career I find it interesting and want to reflect on the 
IMPACT the various jobs have had on me as a person, and on my profession. 

My first Love was Cardiac!
 I found myself right out of nursing school in the Cardiac Surgical ICU. 
This was back in the early 80's when heart transplants at MAYO were a new thing.
This was also the beginning of computer charting, and pumps that ran by computer, talk about a learning curve. Looking back I'm glad I knew both ways. I actually had to figure things out in my head, like calculating a drip rate by watching each drip as it came out of the IV bag and then figuring out how many drips equalled how much drug was being given, therefore giving the correct dosage....   I also had to chart pressures & vitals every 15 minutes on a fresh cardiac post op, including,  RA, LA, CVP, blood gas analysis and so forth. Not to mention blood loss and replacement. All the while watching the Monitor for arrythmia's and keeping the patient from pulling out their 'breathing tube"....I hated when that happened. Today everything is run by computer, 
that can be good (mostly good), but sometimes bad, like when "the system" is down....UGH
IMPACT... I had to learn fast, and think big.

 My 2nd job was in the Neurosurgical ICU
I was there for 2 1/2 years.  I only left Cardiac because I had my first baby, and took 5 month off to be home with her. That was too long for them to hold my job, so I had to find another one when I came back from maternity leave.  All I can say is it was a totally differen't ICU experience. Less intense, les monitoring, essentially no codes, less stressful, opposite of what I had just experienced in the Cardiac ICU. It was just ok, I stayed there until my 2nd baby came along.
IMPACT... A new thing to learn about... the world of Neurology.

My third job was my most favorite of all, once an ER nurse, always an ER nurse.
16 years of Emergency room nursing. 

Oh the stories I could tell, but I won't, I'll spare you the gore, the heartbreak & trauma, but also the joys and the celebrations. I will tell you that being an ER nurse can make you hard, we really do have to put up with a lot (I won't go into detail ) but somedays you had to put on your game face and just get through it. It was a great place to be in my 30's, still young and able to run to Code 45's with my little black bag ( we were the only CODE team in those days), and jump up on a cart as we continued chest compressions all the way to the OR.
The adrenaline rush when we knew a big trauma was coming in, or a CODE 45 in progress, it was the team I worked with that made that job a great one. Respect and admiration for our efforts was mutual among physicians and nurses. Nobody was above nobody, we worked as a team.
IMPACT... It's here where I learned confidence, and leadership.

My 4th job,  The Recovery room.
PACU (post anesthesia care unit)
It was at this time when I broke away from my 21 years at St. Mary's hospital and moved 
downtown to the Methodist campus.
Here's where we prepped patients for surgery and then took care of them after.
I found this to be a frustrating job for the most part.  
 Most of our time involved  management of pain and nausea, it seemed to be an endless battle! 
I admire the nurses that work with patient immediately after surgery, there's never a dull moment, patients never stop coming, it's a whirlwind...
 In my opinion it is one of the most physically and mentally places to serve as a nurse.
IMPACT... I learned what "Busy" really was! Time management was my friend.

My 4th job, Interventional Radiology- Sedation nurse
Worst job in my career for many reasons, but I stuck it out for 7 year!
I will not go into detail, as it could go long, and stirs up bad memories! 
 I'm really done with it....DONE!
IMPACT... It's hard for me to find any good that came from this long 7 years in my nursing career!  Lets just leave it with this,  I loved those patients, 
 a deeper sense of empathy started to develop within my soul.

My 5th and hopefully final job as a nurse
Lumbar puncture Nurse
Some may relate more to the term, Spinal Tap. 
Yes, we the nurses perform this highly technical procedure on all outpatients at Mayo. The Minnesota Board of Nursing has given it's blessing as we are the only RN's in the U.S. to perform this task. (so my supervisor has told us) I feel privileged and humbled everyday. The folks we do this procedure on are usually not hearing good results, as most of our testing confirms those dreadful neurological diseases such as ALS, MS,  Encephalitis, & CIDP. The procedure is not as painful as most anticipate! A frequent comment by the patient following the tap is usually this... 
"Oh, wow you are really done, I didn't even feel that, it's not as bad as I had expected", 
those are beautiful words to my ears.
Sadly a few people have experienced the inexperienced....remember this is our job...this is all we do.
I recently read an article from Heathline.com that says this about Lumbar punctures...
"Entering the spinal canal with a needle requires expert knowledge of the spine's anatomy and a clear understanding of any underlying brain or spinal conditions that might increase your risk of complications from the procedure" I humbly agree!
There are exceptions, when a patient has a "difficult back", we struggle, but we usually get the job done and the patients are thankful.
In addition to the outpatients, we also trek over to St Mary's hospital in the OR, to do 
babies/children, thankfully they are sedated, it would be way too scary for them.
We also help with research, accessing that space where the spinal fluid is and then the doctors takes over to inject stem cells....crazy stuff. 
I Love this job, I only work two 10 hour days a week, there are only 7 of us, we all get along, and work well together, despite our unique personalities. Like I said earlier, I hope to finish my nursing career here, It really is a good gig.
IMPACT... This job has made me a more compassionate nurse! 
 It has built humility and strengthened my confidence in knowing that 
I am trusted to perform this highly technical procedure. 

On my way to work each morning I pray for my patients! I pray that I can give them a glimmer of hope, if even for just that short hour that they are with me. I pray that I can be a light, a reflection of Jesus face, a presence of peace in their hectic day. I hope to reassure them, listen to their stories and care for them during a time of uncertainty and fear.



  1. So fun to read about all your different jobs and their impact on you. You have touched countless lives in 35 years and I know that you were a blessing to them and to your coworkers. When I was little I thought that you were an amazing nurse working in the ER, doing crazy hard things and saving lives, it's why I wanted to become a nurse too. Now, that I have even more of an idea of what the ER is like, I am even more amazed of the work that you did there. I didn't know you guys were the only code team, crazy! I am proud of you Mama, the way you managed and still manage to serve others in a difficult profession, all the while serving your family, running a home, raising kids and being a grandma. Proud to be your daughter, you are one strong, but gentle lady, love you and congratulations! 35!!!

    1. Oh thank you sweet girl, you know I am proud of you as well. We serve a wonderful profession! and yes.... you would have been proud to see your mama running all the way from Mary Brigh to Domitilla to help save a life... what is that, about 1/2 mile? A lot of adrenaline going on there!

  2. Every time I've been in a hospital/clinic setting I hope and pray for a nurse like you! (or Cara or Brianna) ... Though you have never been my nurse, I have seen you in action (with our dog, and kids) ... and you are the standard I hold all other nurses to! Congrats on 35 years! So proud to call you friend!

    1. Thank you Cheri for your kind words! It's so cool how our daughters who were best friends growing up both became nurses, so proud of our girls!

  3. Susan8:09 PM

    You are truly an amazing, compassionate nurse and friend. I'm so proud and thankful that I was able to work with you during so many of your career roles! You have always put your patients first and have given them your very best nursing skills and emotional peace. Congrats on 35 years of EXCELLENCE!

    1. Thanks Susie....It was so great to continue to work with you for 3 of those jobs. You were my preceptor in Cardiac, we had our babies together, and I even cleaned your house in exchange for you working my call. Now that's true friendship from both parties :) I miss you!

  4. Congratulations on 35 years of nursing! I am impressed by all you've done, the many lives you've touched with your care. What a blessing you are. I especially love that you pray for your patients. You are the type of nurse I would want caring for me.

    1. Thank you Audrey, someday I need all the help I can get, so you know who I go to :)

  5. What a great recap of the impact of your career! Mayo and your patients are blessed to have you:) I especially appreciate being able to see you occasionally now!

    1. Thanks Jen, it's fun to see you as well...even if it's just in passing :)