Our Nurse of the Week is Annie Young, a school nurse at Lake Highlands Junior High in Dallas, TX. Young was in the middle of paperwork on a slow Tuesday afternoon when two runners from a last period gym class came barreling into her clinic yelling about a collapsed student. She knew the word “collapse” meant something serious and seeing the panic on the boys’ faces, she grabbed an AED and office aide before following the boys back to the track field.
The collapsed student turned out to be 13-year-old Joe Krejci who was running laps on an outdoor track field when his coach saw him take a dive just shy of the finish line. When Joe stayed still on the ground not making any noise, Coach T started to worry. He found no signs of bleeding or injury, but felt only a faint heartbeat. That’s when he dialed 911 and sent two boys running to find the school nurse.
When Nurse Young reached the track field, she helped Coach T attach the AED shock pads. The AED elicited a “Shock Advised” warning which was enough to force Joe’s heart back into normal rhythm. Then Young began chest compressions while the office aide started mouth to mouth, both of them performing CPR until paramedics arrived a few minutes later.
After making the switch from labor and delivery to school nursing in 2013, Young quickly learned the job wouldn’t be quite as easy as handing out band-aids. Junior high kids are dealing with anxiety disorders and depression, severe allergies, asthma, seizures, and a number of other chronic health issues. At a school with 800 students, Young sees 20-30 kids a day, but she’s not just in charge of treating students. She also has paperwork to fill out, doctors and administrators to consult, prescriptions to track, conditions to monitor, and screenings to organize. Unexpected life-threatening emergencies can also strike at a moment’s notice like in Joe’s case.
Joe had no medical history, but he had gone without oxygen for an estimated six to seven minutes while in cardiac arrest and doctors warned of the severe damage that might have occurred in that time. However, doctors determined a few days later that Joe had lucked out – after a few days of rest he would return to his normal self. Doctors told Joe’s parents he shouldn’t be alive after the cardiac trauma he experienced, but thanks to the care he received from Coach T and Nurse Young, he returned to school a week later.
To learn more about Annie Young and her experience with school nursing, visit here.
Our Nurses of the Week are from Baylor’s Student Nurses Association (BSNA). Recently, the Baylor University Louise Herrington School of Nursing served as a temporary hair salon, when students and faculty shaved their heads in solidarity with children who lose their hair during cancer treatment. The BSNA worked with St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a nonprofit organization that raises money for cancer research.
According to St. Baldrick’s Foundation, cancer kills more children in the US than any other disease and worldwide a child is diagnosed with cancer every two minutes. Thanks to great strides in research, 90 percent of children who are diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most common type of cancer, now survive. However, there are over a dozen types of childhood cancer and many of them offer little hope of a cure. Kaitlyn Po, a senior nursing student and president of BSNA, tells Baylor.edu,
“As future nurses, we feel passionate about finding service events revolved around the healthcare community and impact a specific patient population, such as pediatric cancer patients.”
Pediatric cancers only received four percent of the National Cancer Institute budget in 2011, so St. Baldrick’s is trying to fill the funding gap. Money raised by St. Baldrick’s funds research for all childhood cancer to help find cures and improve supportive care for young patients and their families. Libby Rosonet, MSN, RN, lecturer in the Baylor School of Nursing, believes that the future of pediatric cancer is in research. The only way to help keep that research going is through funding, and fundraising ideas like BSNA’s going bald event is a creative way to make it happen.
To learn more about Baylor’s fundraising efforts for children’s cancer research, visit here.
Our Nurse of the Week is Tarah Foster Akard, a pediatric palliative care researcher at Vanderbilt University who is working to improve coping and adjustment for children with life-threatening illnesses. Akard knew from a young age that she would pursue a job in healthcare, but she also had a passion for softball and had to deal with criticism that pursuing both at the college level wouldn’t work. Now she’s using life skills she learned from playing softball to help young children.
Akard grew up in Tennessee near Vanderbilt. Her favorite subject in school growing up was science, and she knew early on she wanted a job related to healthcare. However, her main goal when deciding where to go to college was to play Division 1 softball so she ended up attending Jacksonville State University in Alabama on an athletic scholarship.
Looking back on her undergraduate years, Akard says being a student athlete defined her experience. It taught her to be self-disciplined, how to collaborate with a team, and how to manage her time, all skills that she now uses in her nursing research career. Even though softball season often caused Akard to miss her classes, she was still making A’s in biology and felt drawn to it even though she couldn’t see a career in it.
After deciding to major in biology anyway, Akard then went on to pursue her master of science in nursing degree at Vanderbilt and became a pediatric nurse practitioner. She returned to her hometown to work in pediatric primary care for a few years which became the foundation of the rest of her career and led her to return to Vanderbilt to earn her PhD and become a researcher. Akard tells VanderbiltHustler.com:
“I originally went to nursing school to work children with life-threatening illnesses. I loved seeing 20-30 patients a day (in primary care), but I wanted to do something where I could have that creativity to think of a question, develop a study to answer it, and then disseminate that knowledge to have a greater impact.”
Akard is currently in her third year of a four-year study researching how to improve coping and adjustment for children with life-threatening illnesses. Her study uses web-based intervention that requires participants to create an electronic scrapbook of their lives. Her job gives her the perfect balance of being able to help children and families going through serious illnesses, while also mentoring and guiding students. Akard encourages students interested in healthcare to “shoot high” when reaching for their goals.
To learn more about Akard and her career as a nursing researcher studying ways to improve life-threatening illnesses for children, visit here.
With a nationwide nursing shortage bringing on high demand, most nursing students find that they have a job right out of college, but usually not one that takes them halfway around world. That’s why our Nurse of the Week is Julia Brown, a senior nursing student at Fairfield University who was accepted into the Peace Corps for a nursing position stationed in Cameroon Africa following her graduation at the end of this semester.
Fairfield University has a core value of being men and women for others. Brown will be upholding that value as she moves to Cameroon for two years to serve in the health sector of the Peace Corps working in HIV/AIDS education and prevention, malaria prevention, and maternal and child healthcare. Discussing her upcoming job, Brown tells [email protected] that volunteering for the Peace Corps has always been a goal for her, even before she wanted to be a nurse:
“Ever since I was in middle school I’ve wanted to do the Peace Corps. The Peace Corps isn’t about giving money and handouts to those in need, but rather it’s about giving them education and promotion so that they can sustain positive changes. To me that’s making the biggest impact possible.”
With the skills she gained through classroom and clinical practice during her four years in the Marion Peckham Egan School of Nursing and Health Studies, Brown feels prepared to make a smooth transition into her new role. To learn more about her upcoming role with the Peace Corps, visit here.
Our Nurse of the Week is Ann Hilliard Ussery from Halifax Health Hospital in Daytona Beach who was assisted by Mike Chitwood, a Florida Deputy from the Volusia County Sheriff’s Department, in delivering a baby in a hospital parking lot. The pair were in the right place at the right time when the father-to-be came running into the hospital lobby and Ussery and Chitwood were the only ones available to help.
Chitwood was off duty at the time, visiting a friend at the hospital, but he jumped into action immediately when his help was needed. As he and the nurse approached the car where the woman was giving birth, they both reported that they could see the baby was already crowning. Too late to get the expecting mother safely into the hospital, Chitwood helped the mom get comfortable then calmed their 2-year-old toddler while nurse Ann Hilliard Ussery helped deliver the baby.
Chitwood joked to InsideEdition.com that, “It was the safest birth in Volusia County today.” With a sheriff and nurse standing nearby, the mother-to-be was able to safely deliver her newborn in the parking lot before they were moved to a more comfortable location inside the hospital.
Our Nurse of the Week is Sara Huffaker, a senior nursing student at Pittsburg State University (PSU), who has been donating her hair to help make wigs for cancer patients for over a decade. Inspired by her own hair donations, Huffaker decided to organize a donation drive on PSU’s campus. Discussing her decision to organize the donation drive, Huffaker told Pittsburg’s MorningSun.net:
“I’ve been doing this since I was in fourth grade. I was donating last year and thought ‘why isn’t everyone doing this?’ So I decided to get to work.”
The goal of her event was to receive eight donations – enough to make one wig. They already had eight people lined up by the time the donation drive was opening, and had over 64 donations by the end of the day, enough for eight wigs. After far exceeding Huffaker’s expectations, she decided that the hair drive will be a yearly event in the future, occurring on the first Saturday in February.
Huffaker is the Breakthrough to Nursing Program leader for PSU’s chapter of the Kansas Association of Nursing Students. Using her position there, she partnered with Wild Side Salon to organize the drive and ended up with hairdressers from multiple salons volunteering to donate their time. Donations were made through Pantene Beautiful Lengths in partnership with the American Cancer Society.
You can read the original story on Huffaker’s hair donation drive here.