• Kathleen Burns

Clinician Spotlight: Christle, LPN

In honor of Nurse's Week, we sat down with Christle to hear about her nursing journey.

Q: Tell me a bit about your background and how you got into nursing.

A: Well, I've been a nurse since 2003. I actually started off as a CNA before then, and ultimately I decided it was time for me to go to nursing school. I always wanted to be a nurse, but I was a little intimidated, you know, I didn't think I had what it took to be a good nurse.

It took some time, but eventually I got the courage to go to nursing school. I graduated in 2003 and it was the best decision I ever made. I’ve done private duty pediatrics, long-term care, and hospice. I just enjoy taking care of people.

Q: How did you decide to start as a CNA?

A: I knew I wanted to be a well-rounded nurse. I didn't just want to be a nurse passing medication, or just writing notes. I wanted to be a hands on type of nurse. So it was important for me to become a CNA first because that's where you really get your foundation. You know, that's where you really develop your skills and where you learn how to be in tune with people's needs. It was important for me to intuitively learn how to address their needs.

Starting out as a CNA helped me to learn compassion and empathy, and then once I became an LPN I just kept practicing those skills as I delivered patient care.

Q: Can you tell me a little more about your decision to go back to nursing school. What made the decision difficult and how did you finally decide to take the leap?

A: It was just really intimidating. I didn't think I would be able to do it. I always wanted to be a nurse and take care of people, but it was just the whole nursing school process that was a little intimidating. And then once I realized that the fear didn't control me, that I could control if nursing was my future, I decided I couldn't let my fear stop me from my passion. So, I just gave it my everything.

Q: Something that we hear a lot from our community is that nursing is really a calling rather than a job. Is that how you feel about your experience?

A: Yes, and that's especially important right now with COVID and everything that is going on, even though it’s tiring and exhausting, this is what we signed up for. You’re going to have good days and bad days, and this just happens to be an unfortunate time.

I just take the time off that I need even if it means I don’t get paid. I’d rather keep peace of mind than go to work and lose my mind. Nurses have to know when they’re getting burnt out. You don’t wait to get burnt out, and it’s unfortunate to not get paid sometimes but your mental health is important.

Q: What are the specific burnout warning signs you look for?

A: When I walk onto the floor and I’m just not myself - I’m not able to do a round and really check in on people. That’s when I have to step back. I have a long fuse when it comes to nursing, but when it gets really short that’s when I know it’s time for me to back off, take some days or reduce my hours. That’s why I like working for connectRN because it allows me the flexibility to do that.

So if I feel like I’m getting burnt out, I’ll change my schedule to just do 3 days a week instead of 5 days. I know I can always go back to working 5 days when I’m strong enough, but it’s important for me to be safe and maintain safety for the residents I take care of.

For example, I worked throughout COVID but then I took some time off because I started making mistakes and getting tired and I couldn’t be the nurse I wanted to be.

Q: What has it been like working through COVID?

A: It was really sad because you had to become the residents’ extended family. Especially in assisted living, they were used to going out and seeing family so it just became stressful for everyone. As a nurse we had to not only deliver care and be an advocate for the residents, but we also had to be understanding, sympathetic, and really serve as their extended family.

Prior to COVID I was doing more residential nursing, you know more paperwork, office work, giving shots, answering beepers and pagers because it was a lot of people I was responsible for. So basically I was starting to lose my bedside skills. During COVID, when they needed me to do things like pass medication it was challenging because I hadn’t used that skill in a while.

Working with connectRN and being able to go to different facilities, no matter how challenging, has really helped me. I am getting a free education all over again because it’s helping me to re-develop my skills. I think that’s really important because I’m also enrolled in school for my RN and I want to be able to step into a nurse’s shoes who’s retired to keep the care going.

Nursing is important and it’s going to be around for forever. We can’t allow our current nurses to feel like they can’t retire because there’s no one to fill their shoes. I want to be one of those nurses that can say hey listen, you’ve done enough, I got you.

Q: Tell me more about going back to school for your RN. What was that decision like?

A: It’s been difficult. I really took my time. For years just going to LPN school was enough, once I achieved that goal I said that’s what I wanted to do. And then COVID just made me realize it was time for me to go back to school.

I’m actually glad that I’m going back to school now as opposed to 10 or 12 years ago. You have to do it on your own time, you can’t do it on anyone else’s time. Titles are just titles. You can have a certain title and not be a good nurse. It’s not about the title, it’s about the person.

Q: In your opinion, what makes a good nurse?

A: Someone who is willing to be a team player, someone who puts the residents first and realizes that you have to respect your CNAs because they’re the ones that are the foundation of care, they teach you.

And someone who isn’t afraid to ask questions. You have to continue to educate yourself even though you’re not at school. I continue to practice NCLEX questions, I continue to keep myself updated on anything that’s related to nursing, and I try to just make sure I know what’s going on in the industry.

Q: What's the most rewarding part of being a nurse?

A: The most rewarding part is not knowing what the challenge is going to be for the day. It can be nice when routine kicks in and there are days when the routine goes smoothly, but there are days when it isn't as smooth and the test is are you able to handle that. And that's the most exciting part, even if you're not happy in the moment. You get to look back and say, you know what I did this, I'm proud of myself. It's just another way to build up your confidence and remind yourself that you are a good nurse.

Thank you Christle for being such an important part of our community and a wonderful nurse! We're lucky to be able to support you!

Check out the rest of our Clinician Spotlights here

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