Dynamic & Dedicated: Suzanne Drew

registered nurse

What was your first experience with nursing? What influence did this have on your decision to become a nurse? 
To be honest, I never really had an instance where I was in the hospital as a kid, or had a grandparent or family member that was sick, which I feel like is the story everyone has.  I just sort of knew.  I would watch surgery shows on TLC as a kid and just knew I wanted to help people and I wasn’t afraid of “blood or guts.” I just got lucky that I knew what I wanted to do, got through it, and am still loving it. That doesn’t happen for many people so I’m so thankful it worked out for me.  I literally never had a plan B and still don’t!

What advice would you give someone considering nursing as a profession?
DO IT DO IT! School is scary and so hard, but so worth it.  It’s a career of a lifetime and we are all lucky to be a part of the nursing family.  You won’t regret it 🙂  Also, don’t stress on grades, everyone leaves nursing school with the same diploma and takes the same NCLEX.

What gets you out of bed in the morning? What gives you energy?
Not knowing what’s ahead for the day or what’s on the unit.  Whose life will I touch today? Who’s the sickest kiddo on the unit? I love going into work, and now that I’m in pediatrics – those kids give me life and energy.  They don’t even realize they are sick half the time so their zest for life is amazing!! Nursing makes me a better person and gives me so many life experiences and helps me out in other aspects of my life.

What do you most enjoy about nursing?
Seems like an easy question…but yet there are a million reasons. I love interacting with people.  It fuels me. Getting to know people in their weakest moments is something most people don’t ever get to experience. I can get to know someone more in a 12-hour shift than maybe a lifetime otherwise.  I love the diversity, the culture, and what nursing stands for.  It’s no secret that it’s the #1 TRUSTED profession – which is a very cool thing to say.  It’s different every day, it’s exciting, it’s fast, it’s emotional, it’s amazing, it’s fascinating… it’s AWESOME.  The schedule rocks too!

What do you think is the most difficult part of being a nurse?
Work-life balance.  For one, night shift is tough on the body, can be tough on relationships, and tough on everyday life.  It is so important to surround yourself with people who understand it and don’t assume you’re lazy when you’re sleeping at noon on your day off.  Also, being able to leave work at work.  Some days it’s impossible to.  We all have those shifts when you lose the patient you’ve been taking care of for days or weeks, or a patient crashes and it was traumatic, or management is a pain, or a doctor yelled at you.  Whatever it is, it’s important to leave it at work or in the car.  If I have a bad day, I always try to call my mom or my husband on the drive home to let it all out so when I get home I can enjoy my time and de-stress.  Sometimes it works, and sometimes I just walk in the door and fall into my husband’s arms, cry, drink a glass of wine and take a bath.  Then life is all good again!

What’s made you want to switch specialties?
The beauty of nursing is the ability to constantly learn and grow. Fortunately or unfortunately, (however you want to look at it) my husband and I move a lot so it gives me the opportunity to try new things in new places. Specialties usually involve more complex patients, which I enjoy.  Most specialties usually make hospitals more money so the units are typically nicer and there are more resources. Specialties also typically make you hone in on a certain type of the body, such as cardiac, and you learn it really well which sticks with you forever.

What’s important to you in a hospital?
1. Magnet 2. Magnet  3. Did I say Magnet???  Mostly because I have never worked in a hospital that wasn’t Magnet designated and probably won’t ( I try not to say never, but never 🙂

What are the most important questions YOU ask in an interview?
I always ask how long the manager has been there and about the turnover rate.  Most fast-paced units have a high turnover right which can be expected, but I like to ask what the rate is and why people tend to leave.  This is helpful (if they are honest).  If nurses leave because they finished an FNP program or are leaving the area then cool- no red flags but if they don’t have an answer or don’t know why their nurses are leaving- I automatically start to think that the nurses didn’t like the unit.  How long a manager has been there is important to me…the longer the better, in my opinion.  A manager that has been there for a while is well respected, knows the unit, and enjoys the hospital.

What’s the first step in switching specialties?
Applying 🙂  You never know what is on your resume that a manager will pick up on, what kind of nurse they are looking for, or how desperate they are to give you a chance!

Do you feel like you need a certain amount of experience in that new specialty before switching to another new one?
A good year goes a long way.  I think less than a year doesn’t help as much, and obviously the more time you have the better you’ll look on the resume.

What kind of things do you do to easily integrate into a new unit’s culture and overcome the ‘new kid on the block’ situation?
Just be myself.  Try to ask questions about people and get to know them.  When there’s an outside work event (baby shower, drinks after work), I just push myself to go – it’s easier to get to know someone out of the work setting than when you’re busy at work.  I’ve met some really great nurses this way and some lifelong friends!!

What do you think hiring managers care most about?
Experience, willingness to learn, and how well you interact with him/her and peers.  Most of the jobs I have had all included a peer interview after the manager interview.  Let’s be honest, when you spend as much time with your coworkers as we do, you want to be able to get along and be friends.  They can mold a nurse to what they clinically want on the unit but they can’t make your personality what they want.  You either have that IT factor or not. Experience as a New Grad is important.  Depending on the unit, managers like New Grads – they can teach them how to do things the way they want to and the mindset that they want you to have on their unit- but if it’s a critical care unit or a specialty- they’ll want some experience.  A nurse with experience is ALWAYS helpful.

How do you find out information about what it’s like to work at a certain hospital?
Get a feel for the culture and the people during the interview. Unfortunately for me, it’s usually a new city so I just sort of trust my gut and go for it.  I usually pick my unit based on the types of patients I will have and hope for cool fellow nurses.  It’s all worked out well for me thus far!

Is there anything you feel you truly miss out on by not staying in any one place or specialty very long?
We all remember in nursing school the different levels of experience there are from novice to expert.  Every new nurse is a novice.  Although it’s hard to get to expert, (and what is an expert anyway?) I feel I’d be more of an “expert” in certain units if I had the ability to stay there longer.  On the flip side, I have so much experience in so many different things that are extremely helpful in many situations.  I take so much of what I know from every unit or hospital and combine it all into whatever unit I’m currently in.  From experience, managers tend to be supportive of the diverse units – obviously having critical care experience always helps too.

How do you suggest a nurse prevents being too specialized?
I don’t know if there’s such a thing.  If that specialty gives you life and motivation and you love it, it’s totally fine to stay in it forever.  You will have so much experience and will have seen so much.  You will be valued as a mentor and very much TRUSTED 🙂 in that specialty.

What do you wish the world knew about nursing?
First, I wish people would stop with the “Aw you only work 3-12’s…. is that full time?!?!”  It’s annoying!!! I feel like more videos, blogs, politics, and stories are coming out and nurses are finding their voices.  It’s inspiring to see nurses fighting for our profession!! I don’t think people will ever realize how emotional nursing can be unless they are ever the ones in the hospital bed or the one at the bedside with the one they love.  I also think people don’t try and think about what we do because they’re unable to fathom some of the things we do.  Even the easy things like bodily fluids! It’s like a secret profession where people think they know what we do and what our days are like, but they really don’t.

What do you think is in store for the future of nursing? What about for your nursing career?
Oh boy, the future of nursing?! I have no idea.  The tech world is transforming healthcare, I can’t even imagine what a hospital setting will look like in 50 years.  For me, I love pediatrics right now.  I would love to stay in it for some time. The kiddos melt my heart.  I must say I miss my cardiac adults though.  I know for certain I will continue trying different units and specialties in the future hospitals I work with.  Trusted, I’ll keep you posted J

nurse and dogHealthiest habit for work days: I work nights – so getting the rest before and after is crucial. Also sticking to a routine is essential.
My work mornings usually start with…a cuddle session with this dude 🙂
Go-to meal that I pack for work: Thai chicken noodle pasta- so much good protein for a long shift!
Favorite thing to do on a day-off: Sad to say… PJ’s, wine, and good reality TV
Favorite app: Spotify – gotta play good jams on the way to work
Clogs or sneakers? Sneakers all day …. I’m too tall for clogs – they make my pants too short!
If I wasn’t a nurse, I would probably be..can’t answer that… NURSE FOREVER
Compression stockings, compression socks, or neither? Hit or miss…compression socks if I wear them- but they make my legs itchJ
Puke, poop, sputum, IV starts in babies, we’ve all got our aversion, what’s yours? Definitely NOT IV’s- those are my favorites in all ages and my best asset… BUT if an adult is puking- I’m far, far away
Go-to choice of caffeine? ROOT BEER OR DR PEPPER alllll day!!

 

 

Sarah Gray
Sarah is a Pediatric Clinical Nurse III at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital and a UCSF 2017 Evidence Based Practice Fellow. A New Jersey native, Sarah graduated from Penn Nursing and has been living in San Francisco ever since. She's been an athlete her whole life and continues to be passionate about health, fitness, and making the most of all opportunities. She continues to harness her passion for innovation and process improvement in her role as Founding Clinician at Trusted Health.