"Our co-worker is passed out
on the floor in the ladies room!Can you
come right away—there is blood everywhere!”
Whenever the emergency phone
rings, occupational health nurses must be ready for anything!A career in occupational health gives you the
opportunity to use every skill you’ve acquired over your nursing years.
In the scenario above, the
patient was a large patient, had head trauma from a fall in the stall,
diminished LOC (level of consciousness), complaining of chest pain and SOB
(shortness of breath), and was physically wedged under two stalls!She was later found to have had a PE (pulmonary
embolism) and recovered well thanks to caring colleagues who discovered her
after a prolonged absence and an acrobatic nurse who managed to bandage her
wound, get a nasal cannula placed, and keep her talking and reassured until the
EMS (emergency medical service) team arrived and broke down the stall walls.
I love being a nurse because
of the adventure and mystery that comes every day.I started out in pediatrics, became a multi
specialty Navy nurse at the premier facility in Bethesda, and went on to become a pediatric
transport nurse and then a “Clin Spec” in neonatology.
Meeting my future musician
husband at a concert of our belovedJulliard String Quartet led us overseas to Singapore and Hong Kong where
I created the role of orchestra nurse—another form of occupational health!Management positions, one in a multicultural
setting in Hong Kong, rounded out my career
until we had our two boys, now aged 16 and 17.
Contracting with FOH (Federal
Occupational Healtha division of the Department
of Health and Human Services U.S.
Public Health Service) part-time evenings and weekends was the perfect
opportunity to use my nursing expertise and still be home with my babies.I learned spirometry and vision and hearing
surveillance as an industrial health nurse at the Bureau of Engraving and
Printing and loved the wonderful aesthetics and challenges with visitors as a
nurse at the National Gallery of Art!The HolocaustMuseum position brought
tears to my eyes but I felt honored to be a resource for those visitors who
needed to talk through their grief.
Through telehealth, as a
Kaiser Advice nurse, I learned algorithms for every situation which have become
the fundamental tenets of many nursing processes I have since encountered.QI (quality improvement) and mentor/training
roles as well as Web nursing were a natural evolution for me as I was always
the detail oriented one and loved being a resource.
September 11 brought me back
to my community to be closer to my children should the worst happen again.School nursing kept me on my children’s
schedules and allowed me the summers off to follow my dream of achieving my
World travel and experiencing
third-world countries was the perfect backdrop for my present role in the
Department of State as a travel immunization nurse for 47 federal agencies and
coordinator in building our audiology program.
I feel fortunate that MWAOHN,
our D.C. AAOHN chapter is thriving!The
networking and learning opportunities with our contemporaries brings even more
vitality to our nursing roles.