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Emergency room nurse gets thanks for thankless job

July 08, 2002|by Liz Boch

lizb@herald-mail.com

Nursing has been described as a thankless job, making some wonder why one would ever enter the field.

Washington County Hospital emergency room nurse Vickey Breeze said she was born for it.

"I've always known I wanted to be a nurse," the 38-year-old said. "I told my parents when I was young and they laughed, but I did it all on my own. I was the kid that didn't mind blood and bandaged my siblings' broken legs."

Breeze began her training at Fort Hill High School in Cumberland, Md., taking chemistry, biology and anatomy. She then went to Arizona State University for certification. She also earned a degree in psychology.

Breeze first worked in a hospital as part of her clinical work for college. She described it as scary, unknown territory.

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"Before that, it was all book learning," she said. "It's a learning experience, and it still is. That little apprehension keeps you on your toes."

After graduation, Breeze accepted a job at a 24-bed hospital in Tucson, Ariz., where the emergency department had only six beds and one operating room.

"You name it, I did it. I learned so much being in a place so small," she said. "Baby deliveries were common, and there was never a dull moment."

Breeze has worked at Washington County Hospital for 11 years in the operating room, emergency department and intensive care unit. She considers the ER her favorite post.

"It's ever-changing and fast-paced," she said. "I wish it on no one, but when injuries happen, I want to be the one taking care of them. I thrive in here."

Clinical Manager Staci Moser said Breeze has the perfect personality for the job.

"She's upbeat and keeps up the staff morale without even knowing it," Moser said. "She's a team player."

The downside of working in the emergency department, Breeze said, is the lack of follow-up with patients.

"You're there to stabilize them and send them where they can get extensive care," she said. "I build a rapport with my patients and try to visit them on my lunch hour. They're reaching out for help and you're the first contact."

Breeze said the hardest part of nursing is telling family members their relative has died.

"You think, 'What do I say to the loved ones?' You need to allow them to say and do what they need to," Breeze said.

She remembered an elderly man who wouldn't sit still in his stretcher.

"I took his hand and removed his oxygen mask so he could see me and told him we'd take good care of him and to relax," Breeze said. "He later told me my eyes and my smile helped calm him down."

Breeze said all it takes is for one patient to thank her and she knows she chose the right career.

"Sometimes it's hard, but then you have one day where the family thanks you or a child draws a picture and it goes up in the nurse's station and it's worth it," she said.

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