Professional Staff Nurse II
UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh
Where did you train for your career? (undergraduate and graduate institutions, certifications or other training): B.S. from University of Notre Dame in Biology, B.S.N. from Duquesne University, Licensure: RN (Registered Nurse), Certification: CPHON (Certified Pediatric Hematology Oncology Nurse)
What qualities or skills are important in your career?: As a nurse, it is important to have time-management and communication skills. A day in the life of a nurse and can be very busy, and the status of a patient can change in an instant. It is important to be able to manage time appropriately so that you are able to assess you patients, administer medications, coordinate tests and therapies, and communicate with the physicians. Teamwork is essential to successful nursing; helping out your fellow nurses, physicians, and patient care techs ensures the best care for the patient, especially when an emergency situation occurs.
What is a typical day like in your job?: Nurses typically work 12 hours shifts in the hospital where I work. This means I start at either 7:00am or 7:00pm. The first thing we do on the job is receive our patient assignment and get report on our patient at the bedside. Report is basically the story of the patient's medical history, why they are in the hospital, and important notes about their treatment plan or some difficulties that they may be having. Some days I have 2 patients and other days I may have up to 4 patients. Throughout the course of the day, nurses are in constant communication with the patients and their families, administer medications, perform assessments and vital signs, draw lab work, and communicate with the physicians. Where I work, we administer many blood products and chemotherapy, which may require extra monitoring. And at the end of the day, I give report to the next nurse taking care of my patients.
Occasionally I am at work for other projects too. I co-chair the Quality and Safety Council for the hospital; we meet monthly to discuss quality and safety issues throughout the hospital and attempt to implement process changes to ensure the quality of patient care and the safety of our patients and staff. Sometimes I help to teach newly hired nurses about chemotherapy and how to administer it safely. And other days I get to come for classes and lectures myself to learn about the newest technologies and treatments for hematology, oncology, and bone marrow transplant patients.
What types of people do you interact with at your job?: I interact with other nurses, physicians, patient care technicians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, pharmacists, child life therapists, nutritionists AND the patients and their families (of course!)
Where do you work? (office, laboratory, factory, home, outdoors, etc.): I work in a pediatric hospital, we have a 20 bed unit, which means at most we could have 20 patients admitted at any given time. The unit that I work on is specialized, primarily for oncology patients and patients receiving bone marrow transplants.
What do you wear to work?: I wear scrubs to work and comfortable shoes on my feet because I do a lot of walking and moving.
What has surprised you about your career? Is it what you imagined it would be?: Working as a pediatric hematology, oncology, bone marrow transplant nurse is a dream come true. I always imagined that it would be inspiring, but it is even more inspiring that I ever thought possible. The patients that I take care of are the strongest people that I know; despite whatever they may have going on, they are still kids who just want to be kids! And we try to make that happen as much as possible! It's surprising how much fun I can have at work!
What are your favorite aspects of your job?: I love interacting with my patients and their families. We see the same patients and families throughout their course of treatment and get to know them well. It's beautiful being able to form relationships with them. I especially love whenever they come back to visit, after their treatment is complete; it's great to see them feeling well and healthy!
What has been the most interesting or unusual experience of your career?: I remember the first time that I took care of a patient on the day that they were receiving their bone marrow transplant that I was so surprised by the process for transplanting stem cells. Not only were the cells interesting, but the large role of the nurse in the procedure seemed so surprising to me because we were responsible for a significant portion of that life changing event. I’ve also seen a superhero or two!
What are the most challenging aspects of your job?: The most challenging aspect of being a nurse are those cases when the patient's prognosis is not good or their treatment does not go as expected.
What career did you imagine yourself in as a young girl?: I thought I was going to be a teacher, a model, a jockey, a CPA, a journalist, and a writer. I never thought that I would be a nurse, until I was in my 20s!
What is your coffee shop drink of choice?: Black coffee or a cappuccino
What are some of your recent personal goals and/ or accomplishments?: Getting married and buying a house!
Do you have any special skills or hidden talents?: Conversational in Spanish.
Who are YOUR role models?: My grandparents and my patients
What do you like to do outside of work?: Outside of work I enjoy cooking, reading, traveling the world, and playing with my puppy. I love being outdoors and staying active!
Is there anything else about you and your career that you would like to share?: Nursing is a rewarding career! I'm always learning! And nursing is consistently at the top of the list as most ethical career!