Editor’s note: Carle Foundation Hospital is a sponsor of Chambanamoms.
Nurses keep the hospital running. If you’ve ever been to the hospital or clinic, you will have had the pleasure of working with a nurse. In the next few months we are highlighting some of the amazing nurses at Carle Foundation Hospital. More than 1,600 nurses practice at Carle in a variety of settings – all dedicated to providing exceptional patient care.
Meet our first nurse-to-know, Crystal Griest.
Why do you love working and living in #chambana?
I am not originally from the Champaign-Urbana area and wasn’t sure how much I would enjoy it but, almost 10 years later, I am still glad I am here. I think it is neat that you can have country and city living experiences all within a 15-minute drive within any direction really. There are so many activities and fun things to do within the community on a daily basis. I enjoy working in the #chambana area for the same reasons really. I get to experience things that I did not get to back in my hometown with the level of care we provide on a daily basis to our patients. There are more opportunities for advancement in the workplace at Carle and for volunteering in the community which I love. There is a constant feeling of community and belonging which is heartwarming. Overall, it is fantastic to live, work, and raise my family in such a phenomenal area.
Describe your typical day at work.
Well, a typically day at work is supposed to be 12 hours long but that generally doesn’t happen. There is a lot of balancing acts that have to occur, prioritization, phone calls, being a scribe at times, wearing different hats to care for patients, organization that needs to happen to effectively provide the patient the care they need, and massive amounts of time management. A routine day can involve over 10,000 steps a shift, alarms/beeping, running, some mandatory staff education at times, patient teaching, aligning discharge needs, reinforcement of the patients plan of care, charting, more phone calls, massive amounts of teamwork, and an equally large amount of critical thinking. When a nurse comes home and says they are tired … it’s a combination of all of those steps and the amount of brain power used to get everyone through the day safely. All of our staff lean on each other to help care for our patients. It is never just one person caring for the patients and their families, it is the collective team that makes this happen. We occasionally get the time to socialize and really get to know our patients on a personal level — those times are the best ones. On the very RARE chance the unit is flowing like it should with all of our “cards” lined up, you may hear the laughter of staff and coffee orders being taken with someone volunteering to go buy everyone a coffee drink at the happy hour time down the street as a pick me up. Those days are nice perks. …
What is the best part of your job?
The best part of the job is that I get to meet and work with AMAZING people. The team that I work with are truly the best and I wouldn’t trade them for the world. Our patients are undeniably top-notch too. A patient/family who truly appreciates you and what you do for them is the most rewarding feeling there is. Getting to see a patient at their absolute worst and having them come back to say hello weeks later just puts a smile on your face. Like, yeah, I helped get you here, this IS what I am supposed to be doing.
Why did you want to be a nurse?
Eighteen years ago I had my first born. I was young and didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I had thought about teaching and nursing but was stuck. The nurses in my delivery room and recovery were the ones to shape that decision. It was their warm hearts, who didn’t pass judgment on me or my life decisions, who were caring enough to come when I needed help but also firm enough to tell me I was going to be able to do this mom thing at such a young age. Those are the nurses who guided that decision to become a definite one. I knew I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives on a daily basis, I wanted to be challenged to do more than I thought I could, I wanted to be there for people in their time of need — that was nursing in a small nutshell. I eventually realized with the guidance of some exceptional teaching at the Joliet Junior College nursing program, that I could eventually do both and maybe become a nursing instructor one day.
What is something that has surprised you being a nurse?
The nursing world a person learns in nursing school is completely different then what is on TV let alone what we actually practice. Being a nurse is so much more than what a person is taught in school. School teaches you the basics to get started. Everything else, someone else teaches you through their preceptor skills and from your on-the-job experiences. Your nursing practice and the flow of your workday looks different based on what unit you are on. No matter how long a nurse has been in practice, there is ALWAYS something new to learn or something that you didn’t know being taught to you.
Tell us about a memorable patient (without violating HIPAA).
I have quite a few memorable moments with patients. Some are not the happiest, some light a fire within me, and others are just so cool to think about. One patient I can think of was in need of a major surgery; could be life or death for this patient had they not chosen to have the surgery. We talked privately about their reluctance, their worries, fears, and how they didn’t know how they would pay for the surgery. This patient was the primary provider for their family, worked in Chicago providing rides to others from the airport. The patient would be out of work for over a month. That gives me anxiety and I am not a primary provider to my family so I could understand the patient’s worries. So we talked. I got social work involved to help with financial concerns, we discussed in detail the healing process, restrictions, what the days after surgery would look like, and that ultimately their family would be okay and so would they. I also had another patient this same day who was healing from the same kind of surgery. This patient was embracing the fact that their surgery was finished and their “life had been saved.” Knowing how upbeat the healing patient was feeling about their surgery, I asked if they would maybe be willing to speak with the patient who was hesitate about having the procedure done. Both patients agreed to speak with one another. The patients spoke for about a hour, and then my patient who needed the surgery called out to speak to me. They had felt better, prayed with the healing patient, and spoke with their family. My patient agreed to have surgery, I called the doctor and told them the patient was good to go, and the family was very relieved. I saw the patient a few days later and they were doing fantastic. A couple of months later I got a letter from the patient’s family thanking me for giving the patient the resources they needed to make an informed decision. It was rewarding to see the gratitude in writing and to hear that my patient was thriving and back to work. Those are the moments we live for, this is why we do what we do.
Carle Foundation Hospital and Carle Physician Group are celebrating their third Magnet designation for superior nursing care – a standard only 8 percent of hospitals in the United States meet. Magnet is a national recognition for nursing excellence granted by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Carle first achieved Magnet designation in 2009 and was re-designated most recently in March 2019. Meet more of Carle’s amazing nurses and learn more about nursing at Carle.