The Flying Angels Make Medical Flights a Breeze

The Flying Angels Make Medical Flights a Breeze

If you love being a nurse, but also love to travel and fly like Sue Treseder, BSN, RN, then being a commercial flight nurse might just be a great gig for you.

Founded in November 2016, Flying Angels is a medical escort service that provides nurses to fly with patients who are stable but have medical needs. They travel on commercial flights with patients all over the world. Treseder, a charge nurse at Virtua Memorial Hospital’s Emergency Department, has been working with them since their inception. Overall, she has been doing this kind of work for about 12 years. Averaging about 20 trips per year, Treseder says that she has been all over the United States and all over the world.

“These patients have a wide range of medical issues. Typically, they fall ill or sustain an injury while they’re away from home and need assistance getting back. We also transport patients who need to get to a different hospital for specialized care. For example, we might take someone with a spinal cord injury to a facility that specializes in that particular niche,” explains Treseder.

Here’s how it works: a coordinator with Flying Angels makes sure that everything with the sending and receiving parties is arranged so that all patients have what they need at all times. They get special clearance from airlines if they have to bring equipment along such as oxygen. And nurses travel the entire way with the patients—from one bedside to the next.

Before they can work for Flying Angels, nurses are trained in flight physiology and also have to pass a test before flying. Once this is done, they can fly with patients.

“It is a paid position, although most of us love what we do so much that we would probably do it for free!” says Treseder.

While flying with patients, Treseder says that she talks with a lot of them. “We’re usually like best buds by the time I drop them off,” she says. “Often there are hugs, tears, and pictures at the end of the trip.”

There are reasons why they can become so close, so soon. “Most of our patients find themselves in seemingly impossible situations. Often, they are in hospitals in a foreign country where they don’t speak the language and the care may be of significantly lower quality than they would receive at home,” Treseder says. “They’re frightened and overwhelmed, as are their families. A huge weight is lifted off their shoulders once we get involved.”

Although she loves what she does, Treseder has had some challenging experiences. She’s flown with patients who have psychiatric problems or dementia. “They sometimes act out during a flight and are difficult to redirect,” she says. “Human behavior is always the toughest thing to prepare for.”

Sometimes, she says, the most difficult cases can also be the most rewarding. “I had one patient who was in Atlanta visiting his nephew when he tripped and fell, and sustained a spinal cord injury that left him a quadriplegic and on a ventilator. He lived in a remote part of China. The logistics of getting him home were formidable, between getting the stretcher and ventilator through the two airports (connecting through Seoul), carrying all the equipment (we had to buy extra seats on the plane just to accommodate all the medical gear), to arranging the 12-hour ambulance ride through the back roads of China — this was a really tough case,” admits Treseder. But the payoff was worth it. “When we finally got there, the family was waiting, along with a crowd of locals and the news media. The outpouring of love and gratitude was overwhelming, and it was just such a great feeling to know we had performed this service for this man and his family.”

One place Treseder hasn’t been to yet is Australia. “But I’ll get there one of these days,” she says. Besides just seeing new places, though, Treseder has also learned a lot. “Although cultures around the world are very different, we have more in common with each other than you might think,” she says.

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Nursing Side Gigs: Actress, Director, and Scream Queen

Nursing Side Gigs: Actress, Director, and Scream Queen

This is part of a monthly series about side gigs—nurses with interesting side jobs or hobbies. This month, we spotlight an actress/director/scream queen.

As a nurse for more than 20 years, Sheri Davis, RN, has worked in a variety of settings: hospitals, the medical device industry, and as an aesthetics nurse with Kalologie MedSpa primarily at the Thousand Oaks location in California, where she works now as a master injector and trainer.

But on the side? She’s a scream queen.

(If you don’t know what a scream queen is, it’s an actress who has performed in a lot of horror movies.)

“To date, I’ve been in around 70 films,” says Davis. While they’re not only horror—she’s appeared in and worked on dramas, thrillers, sci-fi, family films, and comedies—she’s worked on horror films the most. And Davis has won a lot of awards for her work.

“The first film that I directed, ‘Hair of the Dog,’ is actually a film about alcoholism and domestic violence. That film has won numerous awards and continues to do so in the film festival circuit,” explains Davis. “We have won in pretty much all categories including Best Director, Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Thriller, Best in Fest, Audience Choice Award, etc.”

Davis got started in acting when her oldest daughter was working as a child actress and model. Often, Davis was on the set, in acting classes, or at auditions with her. Although she describes herself at the time as self-conscious and shy, Davis learned so much from being on the set, and she loved it. So she decided to give it a shot.

As a single mom of two daughters—one of whom is away at college and the other who has autism and lives with Davis—she says that the most difficult part of her side gig is finding the time. “It is pretty difficult to juggle everything in my life,” says Davis. “I have to stay extremely organized with my time and be disciplined. I have had to learn to really balance everything.”

In her typical work week, Davis says that she works three days at her nursing job and then spends the other days working in entertainment. Sometimes, that will flip-flop, and she’ll work four or five days in nursing and a couple on films. “Every break and every morning and night before and after work, I am answering emails, social media messages, and text messages. I’m submitting to projects via casting networks, doing auditions, etc.,” she says. She also has an agent, manager, and publicist.

Scream queen Sheri Davis on set

Something that really ties her nursing job with her side gig is working with special effects. Davis often works with makeup artists on set “to help make sure the special effects makeup looks real. I have seen a lot of really horrible and sad things working in hospitals, especially the emergency room. However, that is a beneficial quality to have on a horror film set,” Davis says. She’s also been able to help set up scenes with different medical devices, such as IV’s, catheters, and various medical equipment—and make sure it’s done properly. Davis assists with making sure that if they call a “code blue,” it happens as it would in real life. She says that making these scenes appear real for the screen are crucial as is making sure that the dialogue is realistic. Davis has even served at the set medic/nurse at times as well.

“There is nothing worse for me than to be watching a medical show and see things are so unrealistic—it makes me crazy!” Davis admits.

Why does she love acting? Davis says that it allows her to become characters that are completely different from who she really is. “Acting allows me to experience an entirely different world. As an actor, I can become anything or anyone, and the roles that I have played have mostly been entirely different from my real life,” she says. “However, being a nurse as well has opened many doors for me in the entertainment world. I have played a nurse, doctor, and been a medical advisor on sets often.”

Empowering Yourself

Empowering Yourself

You’re good at your job. Perhaps you’re even great at it. No matter what, if you want to get ahead in your career, you need to trust yourself. On a daily basis, you may have confidence in the physicians, social workers, and techs whom you work with. But you also need to have that same faith in yourself.

We asked Tina Marie Baxter, MSN, APRN, GNP-BC of Baxter Professional Services, LLC in Anderson, Indiana for tips on how nurses can empower themselves. She gave us a lot of fantastic information as well as some things to think about.

Some nurses are so focused on caring for patients that they don’t think about themselves. What are some of the basics that they should know about empowerment and what it can do for them?

Nurses forget that we are the biggest population of health care workers. According to The Truth About Nursing there are 10 nurses to every three physicians in the United States. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing reports that nursing is the “nation’s largest health care profession, with more than 3.8 million registered nurses nationwide” (Nursing Fact Sheet). We hold tremendous power. We need to remember that when we are confronted with a problem in our jobs and are looking for creative solutions.

As nurses, we are advocates for our patients. We should be sitting at the board room table and not be afraid to participate in the discussions that affect not only our practice but also patient outcomes. I have seen nurses downplay their skills and knowledge saying, “I’m just a nurse.” We are not just nurses. We are heroes. We need to embrace it. We are the experts in our field. This is not to say that we can’t learn anything new, but if we invest in ourselves and our personal development, we will be the better for it. We can empower each other by standing up to bullying that we see in the workplace and letting others know that it is not okay. We can empower each other by using our natural skills as problem solvers to improve the conditions on the unit.

As an individual, you can contact your local legislator about a problem in your community. You are a person of influence there, and you should never forget that people look up to nurses. You often hear, “I could never do what you do” from the public. You are a nurse and are in a uniquely privileged position. This is one of the reasons I have contacted my state representative about drafting legislation to stop violence against nurses in my state because I saw a nurse assaulted by a patient, and nothing was done. This is empowerment at its best, speaking out for the good of all.

What action steps can nurses take to empower themselves? Can you give some tips?

Nurses can become advocates for themselves. We need to do the homework and back up our findings with facts. Nurses are very creative. We need to hone that creativity and encourage it in the workplace.

I encourage nurses to engage in lifelong learning. By lifelong learning I do not necessarily mean going back to school to get another degree — although that is a viable option if one is so inclined. I mean engaging in learning a new skill that is not necessarily nursing related. For instance, I am learning about SEO, affiliate marketing, and podcasting as a way to reach a new audience with what I have to offer to the market place. You may learn a new skill or sharpen a talent that you already possess to make impact.

For example, in our local community, we had a nurse who had a beautiful singing voice. She would be requested to sing for the patients when they were coming out of surgery if they were scared or when they needed some comfort.

There is a lot to learn out there that does not cost a lot of money. There are wonderful podcasts, TED talks, webinars, and YouTube tutorials that are free on the internet. You have to take advantage of it.

How will empowering themselves help them career-wise?

Each nurse’s journey will be individual and different. I can say for myself that I would not want to do anything else. I have maintained an open mind and a natural curiosity. I want to know how things work. Whether it is a system, a process, or patient problem, I want to know the answer. If you approach your career as an investment in yourself, you can go far as you want to go. I look at each new challenge as an opportunity to better myself.

Is there anything I haven’t asked you about how nurses can empower themselves that is important for them to know?

Find a mentor. Find someone that you admire, introduce yourself and invite them out for coffee or lunch. You will be surprised at how many people would genuinely like to help you. Listen to the advice you are given and put it into action.

Many nurses, and people in general, make promises to themselves, but fail to put a plan of action together. You have to make a plan, commit to it, and work it out. This is something I encourage my clients that I mentor and coach to do. We sit down and map out a plan of action with measurable outcomes or milestones along the way.

One final note, as you are working your plan, celebrate the small successes along the way. Did you meet one new contact that will help you further your business? Did you finally complete your certification? Celebrate. Publish your success, and invite your friends to celebrate with you.

Nursing Side Gigs: Women of Integrity Inc.

Nursing Side Gigs: Women of Integrity Inc.

This is part of a monthly series about side gigs—nurses with interesting side jobs or hobbies. This month, we spotlight the founder of the nonprofit Women of Integrity Inc.

Shantay Carter, BSN, RN
Founder of Women of Integrity Inc.

For her full-time job, Shantay Carter, BSN, RN, works for Northwell Health Systems. But in her free time, she works for the nonprofit she founded in 2010, Women of Integrity Inc. in New York.

Carter says that she founded the organization because she was experiencing a tough time in her life and wanted to work with youth, which she’s always enjoyed. “I decided to channel that negative energy into something positive,” Carter explains. “I created WOI so that it would be a resource and support system for the women in the community. Our goal is to empower and educate women of all ages and ethnicities.”

WOI holds a number of events throughout the year to help both girls and women. They hold an annual prom dress drive, a prom dress giveaway, a prom makeover project, a women in business brunch, educational workshops, mentoring, and a Galentine’s Day celebration. Carter says that they also partner with other local community organizations to help host girls’ empowerment events.

WOI Prom Dress Giveaway

“I think it’s necessary to have an organization like WOI because our young girls and women need a safe place, they need support, they need to know that they are loved and worthy, and that their voices are being heard. We provide them with the tools necessary to achieve their goals and aspirations,” says Carter. “Through WOI, we have been able to create a platform that has helped many entrepreneurs start or grow their businesses, and we have mentored so many young women over the years. We have also hosted numerous educational workshops on health, etiquette, and finances. We have created a network/sisterhood of like-minded, positive women who enjoy giving back to their community and want to make a difference.”

WOI Mentoring Program

Carter admits that she’s experienced some challenges. She needed to select the right team members to help, gain the support of the community, and raise money. “There are times when you may feel like giving up, but then you have to remind yourself of your purpose and why you are doing this,” she says.

If you’re a nurse and want to start a nonprofit, Carter has some advice:

  • Find your passion first, and then it will lead you to your purpose.
  • Research your target group or area that you want your organization to serve.
  • Get a lawyer when it comes time to get your 501 (C) (3).
  • Learn to network strategically and intentionally.
  • Support those who support you.
  • Know your competition so that you can learn how to stand out.
  • Have a great team behind you.
WOI Galentine’s Day Celebration

“The vision for the organization has to be bigger than you because it’s not about you,” Carter says. “It’s about the community and the people you serve. Don’t try to compete with others. Just focus on what you are doing and your end goal. You may feel like giving up and become frustrated, but you have to keep pushing. What’s meant for you will be for you.”

Self-Care Tips for the Holiday Season

Self-Care Tips for the Holiday Season

The holidays are a great time, but let’s face it, they’re also exhausting. As nurses, you already focus on taking care of others, sometimes to your own detriment. To avoid burnout, we consulted a fellow nurse to offer you self-care tips for the holiday season.

Anna Rodriguez, creator of The Burnout Book

Anna Rodriguez, BSN, RN, PCCN, CCRN, works in Endoscopy at University of Utah, but also is the creator of The Burnout Book, a website and blog with the mission to help her fellow nurses find the tools and resources they need to avoid burnout in their profession, while helping them keep their spark for nursing. She also focuses on how health care organizations can create healthy work environments and support their staff.

Rodriguez took some time to answer our questions and offer her fellow nurses some self-care tips for the holiday season.

Why should nurses be sure to practice self-care over the holidays?

It’s so easy to get sucked into your work and forget to take care of yourself! You’ve heard all the sayings: you can’t pour from an empty cup, put your own oxygen mask on first, recharge your batteries, fill your emotional bank, etc. The thing is, all of those sayings are 100% accurate. You can give so much of your time and energy to others at work and come home feeling drained and empty and unable to give any time and energy to your family. This is why we need to take care of ourselves. The holidays are especially important because there are extra layers of stress on top of the day-to-day stress. Events to go to, food to make, gifts to buy and wrap, pictures to take…it’s one of the most wonderful and busiest times of the year!

What are some things that nurses can do to be sure to remember self-care and to fit it into their busy days?

Anna’s dog and his elf

I think it’s important that we first identify what self-care is. It isn’t about giving yourself permission to do whatever you want or lie in bed all day watching your favorite streaming service (although there’s a time and place for that!). It isn’t all glamorous like a spa day or a weekend getaway either (although I certainly enjoy those too). It isn’t isolated to bubble baths, meditation, and essential oils either. Self-care is about taking advantage of small moments throughout your day to improve your physical, emotional, or mental well-being. For example, some of my favorite self-care moments during my day include listening to my favorite music or podcast while I get ready for the day, prepping my lunch so I don’t have to waste 10 minutes of my break walking to the cafeteria, greeting my dog when I get home and taking him on a walk, cooking dinner with my husband, and taking my daily medications every night. These are all pretty ordinary, but they are good for me physically, emotionally, and mentally, so I make time for them.

My mom-friends will often talk about their self-care moments as sitting the kids down with coloring books from the dollar store while they take a few minutes and do something for themselves: read a fun book, work on a hobby, take a shower, or sneak into the pantry and enjoy some leftover Halloween candy.

Is there anything they can do at work, if they have a break or something? Or something they can do at home?

Absolutely, there are lots of little self-care moments that can happen during your shift!

  • Monitor your own intake and output (I&O) status. Patients don’t want nurses who are dehydrated and hypoglycemic.
  • Take your break! As a new nurse, I was notorious for working through my breaks or cutting them short because I didn’t want to get behind in charting or tasks. When in reality, taking that 30-minute lunch break does more for me and my patients in the long run. A 12-hour shift is a long time to be going non-stop, and more errors happen when staff are feeling fatigued.
  • Be prepared. There are some days when it’s hard to catch your breath, let alone take a break. These are the shifts when I’ll grab a protein bar from my work bag, and that helps. This ties into the next tip…
  • Speak up! Let your charge nurse/co-workers know if you’re drowning in your work and need help. When my patients’ care is being negatively impacted, that’s my trigger to delegate and ask for help, because part of being a patient advocate is recognizing when you can’t do it all.
  • Get outside. There’s an interesting study published in the American Journal of Critical Care about a group of nurses in Oregon who looked at the benefit of taking their breaks in an outdoor garden and the impact it had on reducing burnout. Even if you don’t have access to a garden at your hospital, or you’re risking hypothermia whenever you venture outside this time of year, finding a few minutes to enjoy nature, sunlight, and fresh air can make a big difference in your mindset.
  • Debrief on the hard days. Sometimes you need to debrief with someone (a loved one or co-worker) at the end of your day in order to move on. Journaling can be a form of debriefing too.
  • Disconnect mentally when you clock out. When you’ve had a particularly challenging day, this is easier said than done. Some strategies nurses can use to “let it go” is to listen to their favorite music on the commute, take a hot shower when they get home, or just visualize leaving everything at the door when they leave the hospital.
  • Prioritize. It’s hard when you work 12-hour shifts in winter. The days feel shorter, and all you want to do when you come home is eat dinner (cold cereal), and go to bed. And that’s okay. Work is the priority for that day. If your to-do list feels too overwhelming on your days off, prioritize one or two things you want to accomplish and just focus on that.

What are some absolute must-dos regarding self-care?

Two things come to mind when it comes to the basics of self-care: boundaries and self-compassion.

Boundaries in your life are important, especially during the holidays because they allow you to choose how you want to invest your time and energy and say “no” to the extra things.

It’s okay to say no to picking up an extra shift: you’ve already worked your obligated hours, and those days off are important so you can recharge and come back to work as a better nurse.

The concept of self-compassion comes from Dr. Kristin Neff. It’s the concept of allowing ourselves to be human and give “the same kindness and care we’d give to a good friend.” It means not beating yourself up mentally for any mistakes and choosing to see them as learning opportunities. It means not dwelling on the negative moments of the day and focusing on the positive. Self-compassion is something that a person can develop with practice.

What would you say to a nurse who says s/he doesn’t have time for self-care because too much is going on?

There’s this whole self-care movement happening, which I love! I think now more than ever, people recognize the impact self-care makes on their personal and professional life. If someone doesn’t think they have time for it, I would say it’s a matter of perception. Maybe they don’t identify the things in their life that seem ordinary, but are actually forms of self-care. Or maybe they really don’t have time because they are giving so much of themselves to their patients and family every day. This is the point where I’d encourage them to make time for themselves. Write down a list of all the things that make them happy, and do one of them every day — or on really hard days, do several of them. The point is, if they think they don’t have time to do self-care, maybe they need to reprioritize their day and make time.   

Is there anything else regarding self-care tips for the holiday season that are important for readers to know?

The holidays can be a difficult time for a lot of people. It can make them feel lonely and miss people who are far away or no longer in their life. There’s also the aspect of Seasonal Affective Disorder that Psychology Today says affects more than 10 million Americans. Take your multivitamins and vitamin D, get outside when you can or use light therapy, and consider counseling or consulting your doctor. All self-care at its finest.

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