PEF nurses take a bow!
Devoting your life to the service of others
By DEBORAH A. MILES
Most people have heard of “the calling” a term associated with nurses who dedicate their lives to the whole process of patient care.
The nearly 10,000 PEF-represented nurses demonstrate daily their devotion to their profession. Some attend to the medical needs of individuals who find themselves in emergency rooms or on an operating table. Others comfort new mothers and their babies. Several thousand assist those with mental illness or who suffer with physical disabilities. PEF nurses are found at state prison medical units, a leading cancer institute and at award-winning rehabilitation centers.
In recent years, PEF nurses have responded to communities affected by flooding in Far Rockaway and in Binghamton. They have traveled to places such as Bajo Lempa, a developing area in El Salvador to provide health care to the villagers. Many have visited Haiti after catastrophic earthquakes demolished Port-au-Prince to help the wounded, and connect to those who were dying. And they went to help nurses in Sri Lanka who are trying to improve health care in a country attempting to re-establish itself after a civil war.
All their jobs can be grueling, conflicted, undervalued, and even dangerous. PEF lost two nurses due to brutal assaults by unstable patients, Judi Scanlon in 1998, and Elenita Congco in 2011.
Yet, nurses are immensely gratified by the care they generously provide to patients or clients.
Joan Rosegreen, a registered nurse and the council leader at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, is just one PEF nurse who followed the calling.
Rosegreen said as a little girl, she wanted to wear a nurse’s uniform. It wasn’t until she became a social worker and worked with mentally ill patients, that she changed careers.
“I was very disturbed by the side effects of the medication the patients were taking. I wanted to understand why these meds had such an impact on the patients. So I became a nurse and have worked in different departments, but I have found my niche in the emergency room,” Rosegreen said.
“I enjoy treating the different types of patients that come to the ER. It is a great learning experience. Being in the ER gives me the drive to do what I love, which is providing the care to heal patients. The best part is when you help save someone’s life.”
Performing triage for 25 to more than a 100 patients on a daily basis, Rosegreen said, “It’s not always a bed of roses.”
Certain patients stand out in her mind such as a 22-year old woman with no medical history. She came to Downstate’s ER “not feeling well,” and due to the quick diligence of Rosegreen, the young woman was diagnosed and treated for arrhythmia atrial fibrillation, a condition that causes the heart to race.
“She was quivering. It was a frightening experience. We don’t want to see someone so young die, especially when we can prevent it. We were able to successfully treat her. It’s been three years and she has not returned to the ER,” Rosegreen said.
That type of intense caring and gratification keeps the calling alive.
Rosegreen said, “Many people go into nursing for the wrong reason, which is often driven by money. You have to want to care for people, be compassionate and have empathy and patience. For a nurse to have the calling, the desire has to be deep in your heart.”
Mahatma Gandhi once said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
That’s what the calling is all about.