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On the Front Lines of Caring: Nursing in a pediatric intensive care unit

April 12, 2017

Recently I caught up with Sarah Wilson, a sociology instructor for Portage Learning and nurse extraordinaire! She shared with me a little about her experience as a nurse and what advice she has for future nurses and current sociology students:

What do you enjoy most about teaching Sociology with Portage Learning?

“I enjoy teaching Sociology with Portage for two reasons: the students and the creativity behind the course! Sociology is one small step for people on a much longer road.  It is my hope that throughout the course, each person will learn more about oneself and how the world works. This course offers creative videos and readings that invoke critical thinking skills. As a nurse, I can whole heartedly note that critical thinking skills are what separate good nurses from great nurses.”

You have a background as a nurse, what do you enjoy most about nursing?

“Currently, I am a nurse on a pediatric cardiac intensive care unit.  This unit has very high acuity patients and has challenged me to the very essence of who I am.  As a nurse on this unit, I am able to care for both patients and families during an incredibly difficult and vulnerable time in their life. It is an honor to be with patients and families during both joy of recovery and sorrow and loss. People deserve to be treated with dignity, respect and compassion.  Nursing allows me to care for patients in this manner.”

If you could impart one piece of advice to future nurses out there, what would it be?

“If I could teach novice nurses one thing, it would be to speak up! Patient advocacy is a primary responsibility for nurses. This is where critical thinking comes into play.  Nurses must practice in excellence, which means knowing your patient holistically.  It involves doing what is right for every patient, every time. Nurses need to be confident and comfortable being the voice of their patient, challenging people if things do not seem right and coordinating interdisciplinary teamwork to provide safe high quality healthcare to every patient, every time.”

Any advice for your sociology students?

“Read your essay responses out loud before submitting them! This is a great trick my high school English teacher taught me.  If it doesn't sound good to you, it will not make sense to me. I am looking for thoughtful responses; I want to know what you think! I do not grade based on if we share the same opinion or not. Instead, I grade based on your ability to articulate your opinion with a well-supported argument.”

When you’re not working as a nurse or teaching sociology, what do you like to do?

“I will let you in on a secret; I am a bit of a nerd. When I am not working, I spend a lot of time reading about pediatric cardiology and research.  But more than reading, I love spending time with my family.  We spend a good amount of time in western New York on Lake Erie biking, kayaking and playing cards.”

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