Nurses work at Children’s for a variety of reasons. But the common thread is a strong desire to belong to a place where your work really matters and you make a positive difference in the lives of others every day just by doing your job.
Here are stories about two nurses whose life experiences led them to realize there was no better place than Children’s to be true to their hearts and dreams as well as to their career goals.
Connie Cristion, RN, Clinical Coordinator, Craniofacial Team, has been at Children’s for 13 years.
I was overjoyed at the birth of my third daughter, Michelle, in 1988, but also worried about her appearance when I saw that she was born with a cleft lip and palate. I know that your face represents you to the world and wanted her to be a normal, happy, healthy kid.
My fears were calmed when I met with Children’s plastic surgeon Michael Boyajian, MD, to discuss procedures to correct Michelle’s cleft lip. Her initial treatment included a lip closure surgery at 3 months and a palate closure surgery at 10 months and she has also had multiple surgeries during the past 16 years. Fortunately, she has grown into a happy, healthy teen.
I was hesitant at first when Dr. Boyajian approached me during one of Michelle’s visits with the Craniofacial team to tell me about an available position. At the time I was a labor and delivery nurse at another area hospital acting as an unofficial liaison to Children’s. But Dr. Boyajian had a lot of faith in me and with his encouragement I took the position, and never regretted doing so.
I have worked diligently to develop a packet of information for parents of children born with cleft lips and palates because I understand parents’ concerns, and when I was in their situation I remember feeling like I didn’t have enough information. Parents listen more carefully to me because they realize I’ve been there – both as a mom and as a nurse. I can offer a lot of practical tips, reassurance and support.
As the clinical coordinator, I can assure parents that a cleft lip is not the end of the world and that the Craniofacial team at Children’s will do everything possible so that their children can lead normal, happy lives.
Cheryl Reggio, RN, Pediatric Oncology, has been at Children’s for five years.
I may be the only person who has ever taken 30 years to become a nurse. After many detours and the profound experience of living in a developing country for nine years, I accomplished the task. My years in the Dominican Republic taught me another language and culture and through those experiences I met poverty face-to-face for the first time. I learned there, as nowhere else before, to be an advocate of the heart. I reaffirmed that simple actions can make a difference, that one person can reach out and listen to another, and that the touching connections we make can help others to change and heal.
Today I am a pediatric oncology nurse, having chosen a specialty few outside this hospital can understand. My mission is to be an active presence and to share as best I can each moment of encounter.
I fight with all of the strength and hope that I can muster on any given day, though my fight is miniscule in the shadow of the quiet strength of the child and family that I stand beside in their uncertain and terrifying journey towards cure, or not, but always toward hope for healing.
I directly carry out a plan of care with the realization that every moment of care is a potential moment for compassion and empathy. As I am called to respond to the indignity and assault of the disease and the treatments, I must protect the dignity and self-esteem of the child and family. I create and sustain relationships with an unspoken commitment to act always on their behalf, which sometimes means I must be courageous and actively assertive in my advocacy.
Sharing the journey to healing, with sick and sometimes dying children and their families, is a privilege only a few experience. I am grateful for the gift of being allowed into these healing, hope-filled and sacred spaces.