Profiles and Features September 16, 2022

By Cassandra Damascus

Nurse, Leader, and Teacher: Meet Mary S., MSN

A registered nurse since 1986, Mary S. has over 37 years of extensive clinical experience in Adult, Cardiac, Pediatric, Maternal Child, and Neonatal Critical Care. Mary has been a valuable part of both healthcare organizations and educational institutions alike. Her passion for critical care has led her to traveling with NurseChoice as a rapid response nurse, working at a rehabilitation hospital as an administrative supervisor, as well as designing and teaching a course specifically about rapid response nursing at Howard University and Trinity University in Washington, D.C., where she teaches nursing. Mary is also a loving mother and proud grandmother to two little ones.

Answering the call

When the COVID-19 pandemic swept the nation, Mary stepped up to the plate. In 2020, Mary was teaching nursing and worked as a hospital administrator, then put her life on pause to help COVID-19 patients in California. Working in critical care most of her nursing career, Mary headed to the chaos as a supervisor four times. Her first journey to southern California was in December 2020. Then, since her classes were postponed and cases were low in D.C., Mary returned to southern California in July 2021. The beauty of rapid response is that the assignments can be short. Mary had a two-week assignment and extended her contract three times until classes began again in September.

Mary described the situation in southern California, “[Facilities] were in so much trouble for multiple reasons – nurses were out because they were sick, some nurses were quitting, and some states were quickly opening new facilities to care for patients.”. Fortunately, for one southern California facility, they had an experienced, passionate critical care nurse heading their way. An additional catalyst for working with NurseChoice as a rapid response nurse was because Mary was tasked with creating a nursing course solely dedicated to rapid response nursing and working during a pandemic. Mary knew she needed first-hand experience to make a top-of-the-line course.

The silver lining

With the experience of being on the front lines of a global pandemic under her belt, Mary designed an elective course about rapid response nursing when she returned to Washington D.C. The course was piloted twice and this September (next month!) the course will be conducted as an official elective. Mary shared, “The students who took the course were able to get jobs in critical care right out of school, which typically doesn’t happen, but since they took the course, they were more qualified. And these are top paying jobs. One of my students landed an internship at Yale University and they only take four students per year.”.

Mary’s sacrifice and effort to save patients during a global pandemic not only impacted patient care at a southern California facility, but also impacted future nurses, preparing them for working during a crisis.

Rapid response nursing and crisis nursing vary slightly. Learn the difference in our article “Rapid Response vs. Crisis Nursing”.

Interested in becoming a rapid response nurse?

Mary shared advice for nurses who are curious about traveling as a rapid response nurse. “In a crisis, they [the facility] needs you desperately and you need to realize that a lot of times you’ll be walking into situations that are like a war zone. Don’t lose your patience because the situations are often difficult and very trying. Remember that you’re there for a very short amount of time so don’t get caught up in the minutiae. Try to make sure you get enough rest and have a way to relieve stress. I enjoy meditating.”

AMN Healthcare has been encouraging people to spread kindness, specifically to be kind to nurses. Mary’s experience with kindness in the hospital is simple: “Say thank you. And you can see the kindness and gratefulness in people’s eyes. Or when they hold your hand. Or when they ask if you’re doing ok or that you need to rest.”

Are you ready to try your hand as a rapid response nurse? NurseChoice, an AMN Healthcare company, has hundreds of contract nursing jobs across the U.S., and a team of experts to help you find the ideal assignment.

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