When CPR Annie died, I had a lot to learn.

I met Roberta in the early nineties when she told me I failed to save my patient Annie.  It went something like this:


photo by Nicki Dugan Pogue

photo by Nicki Dugan Pogue

Eileen:  “Shock 360 joules, Epinephrine 1mg, CPR, stop compressions, check for a pulse, no pulse but she has a rhythm, she’s in sinus bradycardia.  Give Atropine 1mg.”  Roberta: “Sorry, you didn’t save her.”

 I was sweating, petrified and humbled, along with everyone else in my first Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) class.  Roberta had a clever and effective teaching style. Luckily my patient Annie was only a mannequin.  Lesson learned.  I still remember, whether you call it EMD or PEA, a rhythm without a pulse gets treated like Ventricular Fibrillation while you put your detective hat on to find the underlying cause. 

 So since she is such a smarty-pants…seriously, she is the smartest nurse I know.  I thought I would interview her for the blog.

Here is what Roberta has to say:

How long have you been a nurse and what areas of nursing did you or do you currently work in?

I have been a nurse for 35 years. I have worked in the critical care, oncology, and PACU.

 Tell me your biggest pet peeves about nursing.

Seeing nurses working who do not care about their patients’ outcomes or about the quality of care they provide. When I hear things like “I don’t care about the quality metrics or patient satisfaction” I get very sad.

 What do you love most about nursing?

Having the privilege of caring for patients in some capacity during some of the most vulnerable times in their lives.

 What throws you off balance and how do you know you are out of balance?

Tight deadlines. I am committed to quality work and do not work well under tight deadlines. I need time to deliver a quality product. I know I am off balance when I get frustrated that I cannot deliver the quality of a product that is possible if I had a bit more time.

What brings you back into balance?

Time and time off, particularly when spent scuba diving.

 What advice would you give to new grads starting out?

Be patient with yourself. Do not expect to be the expert on your first day (or even your first year.)

Ask questions over and over again until you understand the answer. Do not settle for mediocrity - Strive for excellence.

If you are taught the right thing to do and see others not doing the right thing, question it (in a kind and gentle way.)

Trust your gut; you are probably right

photo by Derek Keats

photo by Derek Keats