A Heart For Children
"While they are in the hospital, babies and children still need the love and attention they would get at home," says Nursing Assistant Mindy Dobie (U-M Nursing '07), "so I incorporate how I would treat my own family into the care I provide as a nursing assistant."
During their clinical rotations, U-M nursing students focus on the diagnosis, medication and plan of care for one or two patients, while juggling homework and assignments. When they are hired as nursing assistants, they provide hands-on care, such as feeding, bathing and monitoring of vital signs, to many more patients. But because they do not have homework or class assignments to complete, they have additional time to care for their patients.
Learning and Growing
"By assisting in the care of eight to 17 patients, for example, they are learning organization and prioritization skills," says Marguerite Cox, R.N., B.S.N., Clinical Nurse III, Mott Childrens Hospital Unit 5E. "Our staff also helps mentor nursing assistants and advises them on career paths. As often as possible, we mentor them at the bedside, demonstrating procedures and patient care. Nursing assistants also learn how to interact with patients and families. And their confidence grows."
Dobie has wanted to be a nurse since she was 17, when she started working at her family physician’s office. "I’ve always been most comfortable with children, and my experiences at the University of Michigan Congenital Heart Center at Mott Children’s Hospital have reinforced my career choice," Dobie says. She will complete her B.S.N. in two years.
"Being a student nurse on our unit has many advantages," says Cox. "We care for patients of all ages newborn to adult and from all over the world." This kind of experience helps nursing students hone their skills and determine their specialty. "We offer exposure to children with complex medical needs and whose families require significant teaching to prepare them for discharge," says Cox.
Having What it Takes
"I think it takes a special person to work with ill children," Dobie says. "You have to have a lot of patience and understanding. You also have to be able to work with the entire family: parents, grandparents and siblings. But I wouldn’t have it any other way."
Laura Cherven, R.N., B.S.N., M.P.H., has almost 20 years of nursing experience at the University of Michigan Health System. In her current position as Clinical Nurse Manager, University of Michigan Congenital Heart Center, Cherven is uniquely qualified to talk about the important role nurses have in helping congenital heart patients and their families. Here are some of her thoughts in her own words.
On the Nurses Dedication and Commitment to Excellence
"Every day there is new learning that must occur either because of new technology, new institutional processes, or because there is new evidence-based learning that makes us examine how we do our work. The nursing staff on 5 East seize these opportunities to move forward the implementation of the needed changes or to expand their clinical knowledge base. The patient is always central to this work with their best interest and that of their family foremost."
"The 5 East nursing team is a cohesive group. They strive hard to provide seamless care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, coordinating this care with the multiple disciplines that are engaged in each patient’s care."
"Many of our patients have multiple admissions. They come from long distances with diverse cultural backgrounds. The 5 East nursing staff embrace the differences in people and strive to accommodate the patient and families during these stressful times. The staff work to make our environment as comfortable as possible while providing for the complex care needs of the child."
On the Rewards of Making a Difference
"It is rewarding to staff to have the children and their families come back to visit. It is a pleasure to see the children in their street clothes, actively playing. Knowing that you had a role in making this happen, makes the work of a nurse the rewarding experience it is."