By: Karen Brill, Vice President of Patient Services
Ever since I was a very young girl, I felt a calling to become a nurse. There was a special person in my life who was a nurse, and I admired her greatly. She would speak to me about how she made a difference in the lives of the people she cared for. Sometimes those differences may have gone unnoticed by others, but because of her unique connections to those individuals she knew her efforts mattered. As a little girl those stories made an imprint on me. I knew this was a path I wanted to follow.
As I grew up, my passion never wavered. I studied hard and went to college to achieve my bachelor’s degree in nursing. Later I completed a master’s degree. I was driven to bring the key learnings of the mentors I’d had along the way with me as I began my nursing career. Over the years my approach to working with patients and families only became more grounded in seeing the uniqueness of each of them. Each day I was able to apply a truly holistic approach to caring for the patients and families. I relished my ability to take my time and make every patient interaction special.
I recall my first few shifts at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) as the night charge nurse. I was admitting a young man who had just survived a devastating accident; unfortunately we discovered that he had sustained a spinal cord injury. It was difficult having those conversations side by side with our neurosurgeons and the family. When the young man was awake enough to hear and understand the news, I was fortunate to again be by his side with his family and the other key members of the health care team to help him through. It was a long journey for him. First he healed enough to move out of the PICU, and then he was off to our inpatient rehabilitation unit. I am happy to say that he had a wonderful recovery. He and his family made many adjustments along the way, but our entire team helped them get where they needed to go.
Over the years I have worked at a variety of health care organizations. None compares to Gillette in providing patients and families with a truly interdisciplinary approach to care. I am very proud of how our teams, often led by our nursing staff, come together to meet each patient’s needs, improve the quality of our care and work toward a positive outcome. This occurs at Gillette daily. As I walk the halls and meet with staff or patients and families, I can see evidence of the model of care we provide. Recently I spent some time in our St. Paul Clinic. I watched how our team of doctors, nurses, child life specialists, respiratory therapists and others came together to make sure our patients were as comfortable as possible as they underwent an invasive procedure that ultimately helped relieve their muscle tightness. It was an amazing testament to our care model. In the end the patients and families were very pleased, which makes all the difference.
During Nurses Week, I hope all nurses remember why they were called to the profession and what moments keep them grounded and refreshed. Those memories help us come back each day and offer our true selves to patients and families. Just the other day I spoke with a group of nurses and nursing assistants who cared for a patient who had chosen to receive end-of-life care with us. Although it is always hard to say goodbye to one of our patients, each of those staff members shared wonderful moments of how that patient and family touched their lives. That patient will always hold a very special place in their hearts. I know the family will always cherish the loving care we provided that young man when he needed it most.
Thank you for all you do to make a difference in the lives of the patients and families we serve. You live our organization’s mission every day.