In honor of National Nurse’s Week, we sat down with some of our own nurses at 410 Medical. We discussed what inspires them, their favorite memories, and their biggest challenges.
Today we meet Patti Curtin, RN, MSN, CNL – LifeFlow Clinical Education Specialist.
What is your background on your nursing career?
How much time do we have?! Hah! It began in 1984 in NYC. I had always wanted to work with kids and to do it in an ER but in those days you had to work on a floor for at least a year before they would even look at you for an ER position. I got my dream a year later in a very large busy ED in the Bronx, not far from my home. I did what most nurses did over the years and moved up in seniority, but with that came more responsibility. Management wanted you to run things, staff wanted you to get them through a shift alive, and patients wanted both! I learned from every encounter and it built a great foundation for me to decide to move into management, administration and education.
What inspired you to become a nurse?
My older brother’s girlfriend. When I was 16, I broke my toe in a high school play and she took care of me in that same ED I went to work in several years later. I was amazed by what she could do all at the same time! It was crazy busy there and she kept it all together. Super powers… and so cool – and that was what I wanted to do.
What is one of your favorite nursing memories or patient stories?
My career plays like a movie reel in my head. So many amazing people and children. I took care of a teenage girl in the 80’s who was having the worst asthma attack I had ever seen. I was her first contact at triage and I walked her into a stretcher. As we entered the bay, she couldn’t make words anymore and she grabbed my hand tighter as her only signal. I can still see her face. Her airway was completely shut. We had to move at warp speed. We got her on the bed, doc grabbed a scope, opened her airway and intubated her in what seemed like seconds. No time for meds or patient instructions, just me and her looking at each other, holding hands as tight as she could. I kept talking to her the whole time. We gave her medicine as soon as we could so she wasn’t struggling. I didn’t realize until I left the PICU that I had three puncture wounds on the hand where her nails had embedded themselves but I hadn’t felt it. She came back and visited me a couple of weeks later to thank me. The nurses upstairs told her what she did to my hand and she felt terrible. I told her how brave she was and that I was fine. It was so great to see her smile and walk out of there. I still have a scar on my right hand that I wear like a badge of honor.
What has been one of your biggest challenges in nursing?
The nursing philosophy in the 80’s of “eating their young.” This was a term used to explain how older experienced nurses seemed to find great satisfaction in making newer younger nurses feel stupid daily. A good job orientation wasn’t complete unless you made them cry. It was not a good working environment for the new nurse. I was trained in that environment, but I have learned it is so much better to build people up then to tear them down.
What inspired you to change course and become a nursing clinical specialist with LifeFlow?
I was having lunch with a friend. I was inspired by what she was doing. I knew I loved Dr. Piehl for inventing a device that changed how we resuscitate patients! I had seen it used so many times as a supervisor , educator and clinical administrator. I guess I wanted to be part of something that could impact someone’s life positively and change the course of their illness; even when I can’t use my own hands to help, education of those who will is the next best thing.
What do you like most about working with the LifeFlow device?
My favorite experiences are when I’m at a hospital teaching a group of nurses about how and when to use the device. It reminds me of teaching all those required courses for Emergency Services. No one really wants to be there but when you need that knowledge, you REALLY need it! I love sharing clinical cases as examples, they can see how to apply it to their own practice and how it helps. When they take the device in their hand and see what it does and how easy it is, that “aha” moment is the best. Making nurses happy by giving them tools to better save lives….that’s having my cake and eating it too!
WakeMed Children’s ED circa 2007 (Patti is second from right)
Interested in learning more about LifeFlow? Contact us.