Bryan, a bachelor-prepared registered nurse working in Providence Alaska Medical Center’s Cardiovascular Observation Unit, has been at Providence for six of his seven years as an RN. We spoke with him recently about how he landed in nursing after 20 years in ophthalmology, what the culture is like at Providence and memorable moments at work that have stuck with him.
Getting started in nursing
With nurses for parents, after working in the ophthalmology field for 20 years, Bryan decided to transition into nursing himself and went through Providence’s nurse resident program. He was a resident in the Progressive Care Unit (PCU) and says, “PCU is a great place to learn critical nursing skills, as well as some of the basic medical surgical nursing skills, and prepares a nurse for more well-rounded work within the hospital setting itself. It allows you to flex your muscle either way. You can opt for a medical surgical floor, or you can move on to ICU, ER, or another role that requires a specialized type of nursing.”
Bryan says PCU offers a wide range of experience. “You’re put to work to really move quickly. Patients are being downgraded, and patients are being upgraded. There’s a lot of flow in PCU in terms of patient turnover. That can really press the nurse to learn how to make their decisions quickly and efficiently, and manage their time well, and learn all the different interventions and drugs that they need. PCU pushes them to hone their skills quickly.”
All hands on deck
Now, Bryan works in the Cardiovascular Observation Unit, a pre- and post-cath lab, and pre- and post-interventional radiology unit, for patients preparing for things like lung or liver biopsies, cardiac catheterization for pacemaker implants, cardiac ablations and more.
Bryan says the culture of his department is of teamwork and trust. “We have to work together. There are times when something may be going on with a patient and we need multiple hands on deck, because when things happen they happen fast. The hands have to work together. We have to trust each other to get the job done together as a team.”
Says Bryan, “I really love it. It’s a very high patient satisfaction oriented unit. It’s all about patient-centered care.”
Memorable moments in nursing
Bryan values being able to chat with patients and explain procedures in detail to allay their fears and give them confidence.
He tells a story of a patient who’d been bitten by a dog. According to Bryan, the ordeal affected the patient more than he expected. After they talked about it awhile, the patient told Bryan, “I really appreciate you. You’re a really great nurse. You’ve really made a difference in my life.”
Bryan managed another patient’s pain and pain medication after open-heart surgery. Says Bryan, “A year later, he came back into the unit. I almost didn’t recognize him because he had gained weight. His hair was a little bit different. You don’t recognize some of your patients when they’re out in the community because they look un-sick. He came in, and he’s like, ‘I just wanted to thank you. You’re the only person who was able to manage my pain while I was the hospital.’ That is just so powerful. When a patient says thank you genuinely for what you’ve done, and that you’ve impacted them in a way that nobody else could have, that just makes you feel on top of the world.”
Living and working in Alaska
Bryan has lived in New Jersey, New York, California and Florida—and now calls Anchorage home. He enjoys his 12-minute commute to work and spending his time with his wife and two children camping, hiking and exploring all that Alaska has to offer. “I don’t think that people understand how culturally diverse Alaska is. My team at work is a reflection of that. You have to learn to engage each culture respectfully. If you can do that, you can be very successful at what you do.”
Ultimately, what motivates Bryan is his patients. He says, “Knowing that I can make a positive impact in somebody’s life not only brings me job satisfaction, but it gives me purpose.”
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