NurseAvatar is me, an experienced nurse named Roxanna Stead. Let me start by telling you how I came across the term “Avatar.” One day while charting in an electronic health record program I came across this figure called, “Avatar”, the avatar is used to chart the type and location of various devices that a patient may have on or in their bodies such as a peripheral IV, a chest tube, or a colostomy bag for example. I found the avatar to be very helpful so I came up with the idea to become a NurseAvatar, someone who could be helpful to other health care professionals. So, I created NurseAvatar to share my exceptional experience and perspective on health care, which began as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)/Firefighter and an Emergency Department EMT/Unit Clerk. I enjoy sharing my expertise and teaching those willing to learn about health care. Now before I go on, I realize this “ABOUT ME” section is long, but there is no other way to authenticate my experience and training other than explaining it to you in black and white. Thank you in advance for taking the time to visit my NurseAvatar world.
For anyone of you who are adrenalin junkies, I can definitely relate and understand the feeling of an adrenalin rush. I remember responding to my very first 9-1-1 call like it was yesterday. I remember my heart pumping so hard that I thought it was going to burst out of my chest. The sirens were blaring as if they were screaming at the traffic to get out of the way. I was riding in the rear jump seat, and as we were approaching the house fire, I could see the smoke billowing away. When we stopped, I quickly unbuckled my seat belt and went to jump off the fire engine when I was suddenly stopped in my tracks by my captain. She stopped me and said, “I will let you go in if you can tell me what your pulse is?” I immediately took my pulse and shouted out, “92!” My captain shouted, “Now go fight that fire!”
Once back at the fire station, she called me aside and reminded me of why she wanted me to take my pulse. She stated, “I will only have you check your pulse this one time because I want you to remember to slow down so that you can think clearly.” She went on to say, “If you rush into a fire 100 miles an hour you will run out of breath in no time and then you will become part of the problem, not part of the solution.” I thanked her for looking out for me and remembered to pass on the same “torch” to other firefighters as I trained them.
As a paramedic, I can recall the same adrenalin rush but at a much higher rate. The role of Paramedic was intense and required making life-saving decisions at the drop of a dime. It is not an easy task when you’re standing in poop up to the top of your boots in the middle of a pasture filled with Texas Longhorns. Longhorn bulls that were scrapping their hoofs in anticipation of causing bodily harm. Yes, the scene was safe initially, but the Longhorn bull appeared out of nowhere. I remember I was in the middle of intubating the patient, so the firefighters rushed in to distract the bull, however, I could still see the fog from him snorting as if to say, “You guys are in my way!” Having my back to the bull was uncomfortable, but I trusted my EMS rustlers, who eventually facilitated a safe evacuation to the ambulance. After the call back at the station, we all had a good laugh about the call, but at the same time, we all agreed that we will never look at a cow pasture in the same way.
I had only been a Paramedic for about a year when I ran into my Battalion Chief who was also a nurse. She had left the fire department and the hospital she worked for to become a traveling nurse. She told me that I was good at what I do and recommended that I become a nurse.
I followed her advice and returned back to school. While going to school, I worked at the hospital as a Central Supply technician who sterilized surgical equipment, then a Laboratory Technician who drew blood specimens, then a Monitor Technician, where I monitored the patient’s heart rhythms and then a nurse’s aide who helped nurses with patient care.
Returning to school paid off and I graduated in 2001 with an Associate Degree in Nursing. I stayed working at the small rural hospital where l was a nurse’s aide but now worked as a nurse. I initially worked in the Medical-Surgical Unit, then the Ortho Unit, for approximately six months before I transferred to the Emergency Department. The emergency department was small, with about seven beds. The types of patients varied from medical to trauma, even though we were not a trauma center. We did on occasion receive trauma patients who were quickly stabilized and transferred out to the appropriate facility.
In 2005 I left the ED to become an Emergency Room (ER) Registered Nurse (RN) traveler. I worked as a traveler in California and Hawaii specializing in emergency medicine for approximately two years while attending school to obtain my bachelor’s degree in nursing. A traveling nurse required the ability to adjust and adapt to different cultures, beliefs, and medical environments. In 2007 I stopped traveling and picked up a fulltime position as an RN for an emergency/trauma center. This particular ER/Trauma center was and is continuously saturated with all types of patients that had all kinds of illnesses, some acute, but most were chronic illnesses. I learned a lot when I worked for this Trauma Center, but mostly the importance of camaraderie as some of the trauma cases were devasting and required every ounce of prayer and teamwork to make the shift seem tolerable in one way or another.
In 2009 I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from California State University of Dominguez Hills. I continued to work in the emergency department until 2013 when I decided I need a change of pace due to the loss of my mother and brother. I remembered the comfort and care that the Hospice RN had provided during my time of grief and I wanted an opportunity to do the same for other families. The decision to step away from the ED was not easy, but it was an important decision. The change would allow me time to heal and what better way to heal than to help others who are in need.
I went to work for a local hospice and got hired as an RN Case Manager. While working for hospice, I met a lot of special people who went out of their way to provide comfort and care to those who were dying and their associated families. I managed patients in various locations, of all ages with a variety of illnesses whose only desire was to die with dignity. I went above and beyond to make sure my patients and their families were provided with optimum comfort and care. I did my best to make sure that no one suffered, that prayers were provided, that family was gathered, and that their favorite pets were close by during their last moments of life.
Towards the end of my career as a hospice nurse, I realized that my career had made a 360-degree turnabout. How might you ask? Well, I started out as an EMT responding to 9-1-1 calls in people’s homes providing medical assistance, including spontaneous childbirths where I witnessed many babies take their first breath, and then after many years, I ended up back in people’s homes observing them take their last breath. I learned a lot working for hospice; it was a humbling and spiritual experience.
My work with hospice help me to grieve my own loss and regain my serenity, so in 2016 I returned back to the ED as a staff nurse. Within five months, I accepted a position to become a Critical Care Resource Team (CCRT) RN which is my current position. AS a CCRT, I circulate, evaluate, and stabilize patients throughout the hospital as well as respond to Rapid Response codes, such as Code BLUEs, Code STEMIs, Code STROKEs, and Code SEPSIS. Being a CCRT has allowed me to share all my knowledge and skills which I have learned throughout the years. More importantly, the role of CCRT requires fast-paced critical thinking along with proactive thinking, processes that take into consideration the whole picture, and help me to render a solution based on my knowledge and vast array of present and past patient care experiences. I take great pride in my work and I love being a nurse, all of which fuels my passion for wanting to help others. I consider it an honor to be a valuable resource to so many health care professionals.
When I am not hard at work, I am home studying to become a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) who will specialize as a Family Nurse Practitioner. I have approximately two years to go before I graduate and head down another career path. As a Family Nurse Practitioner, I will be able to work autonomously or in collaboration with other health care professionals to prescribe medications, examine patients, diagnose illnesses, and provide treatment as a primary care provider, more importantly, I become part of the solution, one patient at a time.
That’s enough about me, please enjoy reading the Blog Articles!