Meet Lindsay - Transplant RN to Informatics to Nursing Education

How long have you been a nurse and what areas of nursing have you work in?  I have been a nurse 12 years this July. I started out in Kidney, Liver, and Pancreas transplant. I worked as a super user for several nursing informatics projects, including building out provider and nursing care orders in UCSF’s Epic EHR over the course of the first 10 years. I have moonlighted as a nurse in a women’s outpatient setting where our focus was providing abortion post-operative care, and at an esthetic medicine clinic providing laser hair removal services. Currently I am a clinical nurse educator focused on the professional development of the adult acute and transitional care nurses at UCSF Medical Center/ UCSF Health.

What do you love most about nursing?  I love nurses. The work we do is incredible; incredibly hard, incredibly rewarding, and incredibly mind bending. What nurses do for patients is unparalleled and I love seeing nurses work their magic in all the ways that we do. Nurses in the ‘zone’ are just awesome. I also really enjoy the captive audience that many of my patients were – they helped me hone my sense of humor as much as I honed my practice.

Tell me what you consider the biggest challenges or concerns about nursing today.

·      Keeping management and support units relevant and clinically competent

·      Managing the incredibly tight margins that ACA have presented (more patients, but losing money) and the frenetic pace to keep up with the number of patients seeking care

·      Dealing with patients that 5 years ago wouldn’t survive their condition. Futility of care concerns.

What throws you off balance and how do you know you are out of balance?  Having many projects that all need to get done and have competing deadlines – a constant in my role. I have to choose between family and personal balance, and feeling happy with my work. But they both require the other to be in a good space. This has been my challenge in the past couple of years. I know because I stop being funny and playful and eat terrible things in great volumes. And I cut corners for myself.

What brings you back into balance?  I grew up figure skating and have gotten back into it recently, including taking lessons. So I go to the ice. I have also really enjoyed my fitness community – November Project. A huge friendly group that meets 3-4 days a week for a morning workout, hugs, good vibes, and a good sweat. And it is rain or shine, holiday or not, FREE. It has been a game changer – helped me to meet tons of happy, healthy people who have found balance via adventuring, learning, playing. I am a more playful person because of this community and they have really been a source of balance.

When all else fails, I run off to Tulum Mexico and unplug. It is glorious and works every time.

Tell me about your most favorite nursing job and why.  I have really liked all of my ‘gigs’ but the one that I have the most affection for was working at Women’s Options at SFGH (now ZGH) in San Francisco. Helping women of all ages and backgrounds deal with a difficult decision and time, and carrying them through it was so rewarding. I worked with the smartest group of clinicians and support staff – nurses with advanced degrees and PsyD’s, and a provider group that were not only colleagues but our teammates and friends. It was incredibly hard and incredibly rewarding.

What advice would you give to new grads starting out?  BE PATIENT WITH YOURSELF. People will tell you it takes 6 months, 1 year, 1.5 years. It takes as long as it takes, and it is SO worth the wait. Some will ‘get it’ faster than you, some will not. It is all about you. Focus on that, enjoy the ride, and ask all the questions. We are excited to welcome you to one of the hardest and best jobs ever.

What happens when the nurse gets sick?

                      The three NP sisters:  Regina Walsh, Dr. Eileen Escarce and Veronica Byrne.

                      The three NP sisters:  Regina Walsh, Dr. Eileen Escarce and Veronica Byrne.

Once in awhile nurses switch roles and become patients.  I am no stranger to this role reversal.  I have had minor surgeries, meningitis and even broke my back, after a truck hit me while riding my bicycle.  This is small stuff compared to my friend Regina, who has been a patient since 2007.  We worked together in the ICU at UCSF in 2003.  It was at this time when she was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer.  After treatment, Regina kept the cancer in check.  She continued to work for four years and then was thrown another curveball when she had a stroke in 2007.

 

Her life is hard, although you will not hear her complain.  The tPA (treatment for her stroke) destroyed the right parietal lobe of her brain in a bleed. She lost use of her left side and life in a nursing home dangled in her future. That is not Regina’s style.  With the support of family and friends, rehabilitation, treatment and her fighting spirit, she is able to live with family and walk with a cane. In addition to pain medication and a baclofen pump, her back spasms are treated with Botox injections to her left neck all the way to left calf.  Her Ovarian Cancer was in remission for seven years, until four years ago she was diagnosed with Stage IV Ovarian Cancer.  Unfortunately the chemo makes her stroke symptoms worse and she is challenged with significant pain. 

                Regina with her niece, Ali Escarce

                Regina with her niece, Ali Escarce

Regina was a Registered Nurse for ten years prior to working as a Nurse Practitioner for seven years.  With great reluctance, after a stubborn fight with herself, she finally listened to her fatigued body and was forced to give up nursing.  She was a crackerjack nurse and now she is an award-winning artist, published in the Lilly Cancer Canvas book.  You can follow her art on her Facebook page, My Stroke of Art.  Regina has a great perspective about life from both sides of the bedside.

Here’s what she has to say:

 Favorite nursing job

“Working as an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner with the neurology department that specialized in strokes at Loma Linda University Medical Center.  I felt like a resident, only I knew more. I liked the critical thinking, fast pace challenges and opportunities to learn. I also worked with great nurses and nurse practitioners.”

How did you know you were out of balance in nursing?

“When I started complaining and didn’t look forward to going to work, I knew it was time to find a different area of work.  It was essential for me.”

 

Biggest pet peeve

“There is an assumption by families and patients that the doctor saved their lives when in reality it was a nurse.”

 

Advice to new graduates

“Do what you love. Don't be afraid. Ask questions. Don't be a know-it-all.  School taught you a lot, but you won't really learn nursing until you've had at least a year in the same job.  Don't rush into graduate school; learn to be a nurse first, which doesn’t happen until you've worked with patients as an RN first.  Life is short. Don't waste it.”

How she gets back into balance in her life.

“When I breathe, I note the in and out effort, which helps me forget the past and live in the Now. I accept that life isn't fair.  People are limited to their own perspective and can’t always see things from mine. I don’t rely on other people to solve my problems; only I have that power and ability to do that.

 More importantly, I don't dwell on the unhappiness of a situation or conversation. I don’t waste time getting angry, I spend it resolving my portion of the problem, and let go of what is not my share of the problem.


                                     Regina's art

                                     Regina's art

                                    Regina's art

                                    Regina's art

                                 Regina's art

                                 Regina's art