The ED nurses we followed as students were amazing, staying on top of everything, systematically working through and triaging each case. Rebecca Bexter Anderson was a force to be reckoned with. She emitted a confident competent strength. She triaged numerous patients and made her initial assessment in the time it took me to ask if I may take vitals! I was impressed by the autonomy and clinical judgment that was used to assess and stabilize patients.
One patient that comes to mind was a disoriented woman who had a very low blood glucose and the nurses took action immediately. So many decisions were initiated by the nurses. I really liked the way they anticipated diagnostic tests and other procedures, therefore prepping patients ahead of time. I was impressed by the techniques used to start IVs, when access was difficult, with ultrasound for another patient. Nurses supported each other in many ways.
Most of the teaching that occurred was about upcoming diagnostic procedures. The nurse took time to educate the patient about having an ultrasound and CT scan, alleviating anxiety. We forget, as students, that what seems like an everyday occurrence is very often foreign to patients. We watched Rebecca address a patient with their diagnosis; work collaboratively with the physician simultaneously, neither one stepping aside, but mutually respectful of each other as they worked. Witnessing this scenario impacted my perspective of the nurse’s role relative to the nurse/physician partnership. I mentioned this to Rebecca. She responded. “I have to do my own assessment and document my own findings whether someone else is there or not, including the physician”. I have seen this collaboration carried out in other areas of NMC, but in different ways.
In addition to this first patient, we watched Bexter gain surgical consent from a parent over the phone for a 15-year old patient. Bexter encouraged us to perform any allowable skill with all of her patients. Other nurses called us in to see unusual patient situations. I cannot express how working alongside Bexter influenced me. It was such a different experience and different perspective to nursing. I got to see and do everything as part of an interdisciplinary team that was mutually supportive and respectful of nursing autonomy. This experienced has changed my own professional growth for the better, seeing the potential of a stronger, more confident self, yet tempered with the compassion that I already have.
There are times in any nursing career when you feel that you can’t do anything to help. When Rebecca received a young woman in the ED in asystole, there was nothing she or the physicians could do to save her. What she could do and has always done is to treat this woman with the utmost dignity and to support her shocked and loving family. Rebecca’s care and compassion was astounding, but this was no surprise as she has one of the biggest hearts in healthcare. So, although she humbly and in defeat said, “I didn’t do anything…I couldn’t do anything”, I thanked her for all she did.
She allowed the family to spend as much time as they wanted and needed with their loved one, to try to comprehend their incredible loss. She spent many hours on several phone calls with the medical examiner so that perhaps the family could get an answer about their loved one’s passing. She comforted me as well as this dear woman who passed was a best friend of mine, a sister for more than 25 years. Rebecca supported all of us in our unimaginable grief, allowing us to sit with our loved one, kiss her and grieve. She always does everything she can, even when she feels there is nothing she can do. For this and many other reasons, I proudly nominate Rebecca for a DAISY award, the smallest way for me to thank her on behalf of my dear friend, her family and myself for all of her care and caring.