By Alexis Schmid, RN
I joined Children's Hospital Boston's Emergency Department (ED) a year and a half ago, fresh out of nursing school. As a new nurse, the ED is a daunting place; injured children get rushed in with no warning, as the Emergency Medical Technician shouts orders while rolling patients through the trauma bay doors. My ears begin to buzz, my heart pounds and a knot forms in my stomach. And I start moving—fast. The adrenaline kicks in and, at times, I have mere seconds to react. These reactions have become second nature and in these situations, everyone—doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists—knows their specific roles, working symbiotically, helping each other while focusing one on thing: saving a life.
My first few weeks, I was so nervous. During my walk to work, I would repeat, "I think I can, I think I can" like the Little Train that Could, and listen to dance hits to get me "pumped up" and ready to take on the challenge of my shift, Rocky-style. However, once I get on the floor and roll up my sleeves, I remember that I am never on my own; the staff truly carries each other. I have scores of resources available: other nurses, pharmacists, physicians, and the Environmental Services staff (ES), who taught me how to make a bed correctly after many, many lessons. I still ask questions every single day, and have never received a condescending response, even from the ES staff, who shook their heads at my origami-inspired attempt at bed making. Without the help and guidance of everyone I work with, I would never be as strong of a nurse as I am today. I still have a ways to go, but now the complex, acute patients I see are a welcome challenge instead of something I fear.
When parents come in with children who aren't critically ill or badly injured, I get the chance to get to know them and their families by educating, sharing with and listening to them. Their love and fortitude are simply awe-inspiring and the children undergo procedures with the courage of lions. I've exchanged part of my heart with these families and developed a special bond with this hospital in the process. I'll always remember watching A Christmas Story with a patient late last Christmas Eve, holding hands with children while they go through a CT scanner, the billions of bubbles I have blown to distract them. Families let me inside; they entrust me with taking care of their most precious treasures, their children. I feel so lucky—except, maybe when I get vomited on, and even then I can't get too mad—to be a part of this special place.
Patients come into the ED with everything from asthma to yellow fever to bone marrow transplant complications to bonks on the head. I've removed Legos from places you wouldn't believe. The pace can be astounding. Our ED has about 56,000 visits per year, and when we're busy, it feels like they're all there on the same night. But I love treating their range of illnesses, the constant learning opportunities and the team members, who support, mentor and even laugh with me. It's this team atmosphere that helped Children's recently be given Magnet certification, awarded to the Nursing Department by the American Academy of Nursing as a reflection of the high caliber of nursing care we provide. It's an honor that we are truly proud of.
Every day, as I walk back home, I think about what I've accomplished during my shift, what I've learned and what I can do better tomorrow. The music in my iPod changes for the walk home, but every day, I feel the same way: blessed to be part of a hospital with such passion and heart, carried by the love of the children we serve.
Inspired eating from celebrity chef Ming Tsai
Ming Tsai is the owner and chef of Blue Ginger in Wellesley, Mass., and author of three cookbooks. He hosts Public Television's cooking show, "Simply Ming," and was the long-time host of the Food Network's hit "East Meets West with Ming Tsai."
This is a great way to get kids to eat enough fruit—yes, there is chocolate involved, but it's certainly better than eating a whole chocolate bar that has no nutritional value. I like this as a fun, family-friendly dessert; younger kids can choose the arrangement of the fruit on the skewers, and the older kids can thread them. And, be sure to make extra ganache—it makes the best hot chocolate, which, for me, is in season year-round!
4 kiwis, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch slices
2 ripe bananas, cut into 1-inch slices
1 cup blueberries
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon five spice powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 pound bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
Skewers for satays
Make fruit skewers alternating slices of kiwi, banana and blueberries. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine heavy cream, the five spice powder and sugar and bring to a boil, taking care not to scorch. Meanwhile, combine butter and chocolate in a large, heat-safe bowl. Pour boiling cream mixture over chocolate/butter and whisk to combine. Transfer to a fondue pot. Serve with satays for dipping.
More healthful recipes by Ming Tsai
Nii Kwei's Day: From Dawn to Dusk in a Ghanaian City by Francis Provencal and Catherine McNamara (ages 4 to 8) Nii Kwei lives in Accra, the capital of Ghana. Through pictures and words, follow him through a typical day. (See the story on Children's surgical mission to Ghana.)
Ananse's Feast: An Ashanti Tale by Tololwa Mollel and Andrew Glass (ages 4 to 8)
Ananse the spider doesn't want to share his food with his friend, Akye the turtle, so tricks him into leaving the table. Soon Akye turns the tables on Ananse. (The Ashanti are the largest tribe in Ghana. See the story on Children's surgical mission to Ghana.)
Curious George Goes to the Hospital by Margaret and H.A. Rey (ages 3 to 5)
The "play lady" in this classic story is based on Myra Fox, Children's director of Child Life Services. (See the Child Life story.)
A Career in Nursing: Is It Right for Me? By Janet Katz (high school)
Author Janet Katz offers practical advice to anyone considering a career in nursing. (See the In her own words written by a Children's nurse.)
"Fact! Even though there is no scientific proof, laughter promotes a more positive attitude and makes a happier being."
a.k.a. Dr. Gonzo from
Children's Clown Care Unit
The nine clowns in Children's Big Apple Circus Clown Care work with patients, their parents and hospital staff to help ease the stress of illness by doing "clown rounds" throughout the hospital five days a week, 50 weeks a year.
Consumer groups recently warned parents against using plastic baby bottles that contain chemicals called Bisphenol-A (BPA) or phthalates. The Food and Drug Administration, on the other hand, stated that the bottles are safe for continued use. Here's an excerpt from a video interview with Children's Hospital Bo ton pharmacologist/toxicologist Michael Shannon, MD, MPH, co-director of Children's Pediatric Environmental Health Center.
Q: What effects can BPA and phthalates have on children?
A: The first thing I would emphasize is that we have no evidence that they produce effects in babies, or in humans, for that matter... but it does seem that in experimental models, the BPA that's in polycarbonate bottles seems to act like a synthetic estrogen and the phthalates found in plastic seem to act as what are known as anti-androgens, chemicals that would block the effect of testosterone, the male hormone.
See the rest of the video interview with Shannon on this topic.
Children's Hospital Boston already has an award-winning Web site dedicated to young women's health (youngwomenshealth.org), but it just launched a similar site for young men. Produced by members of Children's Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine departments, along with a teen advisory committee, the site provides health information for teenage boys. Topics include acne, body piercing, fast food facts, emergency contraception, sports, nutrition and stress.