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The NSPA Blog

Nursing today; an interview with RN Holly Harris

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Posted on May 16th, 2018 by Teri Dreher, under Healthcare Reform, Patient Advocacy

NShore’s RN advocates are all career nurses, who for one reason or another, decided to step away from the hospital setting and step into private patient advocacy. We focus a lot of our blogs on how the career change affects their ability to serve patients, but less time examining what life inside the hospital looks like for nurses who remain in the setting. This week we speak with Holly Harris, an endoscopy staff nurse at Northwest Hospital and Medical Center in Seattle, Washington.

Q: Tell us a little bit about why you decided to go into nursing and what a typical shift looks like for you (if there even is one).

A: I decided to go into nursing because I was always very interested in the medical field and in the ways the human body works. Nursing gave me the option to be involved in healthcare while forming personal relationships with others.

I work in endoscopic procedures, so a typical day for me involves reading about the patients I will be seeing today to know why they are having certain procedures. I then help admit them to the hospital by asking questions about their health history, doing a baseline health assessment, and obtaining IV access. After the patient is admitted, I take them to the procedure room and help sedate them. During the procedure I monitor the patient’s status and assist the physician with various procedural tasks. After the procedure is complete, I take the patient to the recovery area and then go see my next patient and prepare for their procedure.


Q: Would you say there’s a best and worst part of your job?

A: The best part of my job is seeing patients who have come in repeatedly and hopefully seeing their improvement in disease state or in symptom management. It is very nice to be able to know and have a good rapport with these patients. It is also very fun to see and use new products that are available for use in therapeutic endoscopy.

The worst part of my job is when physicians take advantage of the nursing staff by making us work longer hours to accommodate their personal schedules.


Q: As a nurse, is there anything you wish you had the ability to do for patients that for some reason, you can’t do now?

A: When nursing staff must wait on doctor’s orders or must inform the patient that things are running behind it can be hard. Patients continue to look to nurses for answers or an explanation when nurses are really caught in the middle and also waiting on physicians before we can progress. It can be difficult to explain this to patients. As nurses we want to fix the situation but are sometimes unable to.


Q: Our company holds a pretty strong opinion that nurses are the ultimate support players for patients. Do you agree?

A: Yes! I would agree. Nurses provide a much easier path of communication for patients because they are often more approachable than physicians and are also more present. Nurses have more time to spend with patients and can take the time to get to know them better and to answer all of their questions.


Q: We also tend to find that nurses are natural advocates who have to use their skills to help out with friends or families members in need of medical support, even if it’s just advice giving. Have you ever found yourself in a situation like this, and if so, what did you do/advice did you give?

A: I encounter this situation frequently. Recently, my mother broke her ankle. She and my father called me regularly to make sure they were asking the right questions regarding her antibiotic course, pain management, and surgery. Orthopedics is not my specialty but I have a basic knowledge of these topics so I was able to explain things in more detail for my parents and made sure that they were asking the doctor the right questions so that they could be prepared for her recovery process.


Q: If you could go back and do it all over again, would you still choose to be a nurse?

A: Yes I would. I love being able to learn new things and to be able to form relationships with patients. It is an amazing feeling to have a patient be truly grateful for something you have done and know that you have helped in changing the course of their health.


Q: The field of private RN patient advocacy is still pretty new. As a nurse who works in a hospital, what comes to mind when you hear the term patient advocacy?

A: To me, patient advocacy means doing what is right for the patient. This may not be the most efficient, easiest, or quickest option but it must be done to ensure that patients are getting the proper care. It can be hard to question or stand up to physicians or other staff members but I have found that it gets easier with time and experience. If you are suggesting something that will better serve the patient it is usually well accepted.


Q: Last question, what advice would you give to patients struggling to understand the healthcare landscape today?

A: I would advise patients to ask any and all questions they have. We do not expect patients to know everything about healthcare or understand medical jargon. Healthcare staff are there to make sure that the patient is informed and is comfortable with everything going on. Patients need to be advocates for themselves by knowing what is going on with them and what they are doing to help diagnose or treat the issue.


As always, feel free to reach out to www.northshorern.com with any questions or comments!


With over 36 years of clinical experience in Critical Care nursing, home based health care and expertise as a cardiovascular nurse clinician, Teri is well acquainted with the complexities of the modern healthcare system. She has served as a nursing leader, mentor, educator, and consistent patient advocate throughout her career in some of the best hospitals across the country. Her passion to keep the patient at the center of the model of nursing care led her to incorporate NShore Patient Advocates, LLC in 2011, serving clients throughout the northern suburbs of Chicago.

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