Craig Woodside always wanted to be in the medical profession, but it took him a bit of trial and error to find the right patients.
After working toward being a veterinarian, it was during his time as an employee at the National Institutes of Health he saw how much nurses do, how much they know and how integral they were with patients. His colleagues inspired him to go back to school and become a nurse. While at the University of Maryland-Baltimore in the clinical nurse leader program, he had his first pediatric rotation at the University of Maryland Hospital and got to know a 7-year-old boy with a chronic illness.
“He opened up to me, took a liking to me,” Woodside, MS, RN, CPN, Clinical Instructor on 7 East, recalls. “To me, kids aren’t supposed to be sick – they have their whole life ahead of them. He completely turned my perception of what it would be like working with kids in a pediatric setting upside-down. I got a sense from that interaction that I could be a part of his healing.”
Woodside knew then that working with pediatric patients was his calling and he hasn’t looked back since. In his senior year of nursing school, he did his practicum at Children’s National on 7 East, and was later hired as a clinical nurse. He’s been a staff nurse, preceptor and charge nurse, all the while teaching nursing students at Georgetown nursing school.
“I tell my students this all the time: I’m going to push you to be the nurse I’m OK with taking care of my nephew,” Woodside says. “Be the nurse that you want taking care of your own family members.”
As a clinical instructor, his main role is to run orientation of new employees to the unit, making sure they have all the training and resources to be safe and effective members of the healthcare team. His trainees include nurses and other staff within the nursing team, such as patient care technicians, patient support associates and unit communications associates. He also serves as a unit educator, helping staff with any questions they might have, and helping patients and families understand their care plans.
As chair of the hospital-wide Shared Nursing Leadership Resource and Innovation Council, he looks for innovative ways to make sure nurses have the resources they need to be successful in their profession at Children’s National. His commitment to his over 1,500 nursing colleagues is part of Children’s National nurses’ overall effort to provide the best care for patients and families.
Originally from outside Philadelphia, Woodside lives in Greenbelt, Maryland, and enjoys traveling, volleyball, running and going on social outings with friends and other nurses. He also plays on the hospital softball team. He’s a glass-half-full kind of person and tries to lift his colleagues’ spirits with humor.
“I try to make people feel at ease if they are uncomfortable doing a new procedure, lifting them up so they can face that challenge, but not doing it for them,” Woodside explains.
Woodside likes the culture at Children’s National, where his coworkers are friendly and take pride in the care they provide to patients and families. He recalled one Spanish-speaking family who he was the admitting nurse for recently, with the assistance of a portable audio/video-chat interpretation device. The child’s parents were anxious and he spent most of the day with them explaining in detail what was going to happen in the operating room.
“I addressed the mom’s concern about pain, and comforted them - as well as their child,” Woodside says. His care made a huge difference for the family. On his next shift a couple of days later, as he watched the child playing on his bed, the mom hugged Woodside and thanked him.
Although Woodside has only been at Children’s National for a few years, when asked what he hopes his care legacy will be, he talks about a new mentorship program for 7 East that he’s working with colleagues to get off the ground soon.
“I want to help other nurses give back the way that I’ve always pushed myself to do, so they can grow and feel as proud and professionally satisfied as I’ve been here,” Woodside says.