In the middle of stressful situations, Alexis Braun is as calm as can be.
She’s an intensive care unit nurse specialist and a clinical learning development specialist in Fargo, North Dakota. Meaning, if any nurses have on-the-floor questions or problems, they come to her.
“We work closely with those nurses in their first year to ensure they have the education and knowledge that’s needed. You’re going to feel better as a nurse knowing what your patient needs,” she said.
Braun is great in this role because she herself knows what it’s like to be a nurse.
Before moving to Fargo, she served as an ICU nurse at the Sanford Aberdeen medical center. She also worked as an ACLS RN on the ambulance. Those two years reinforced why Braun got into nursing in the first place. They also taught her how to handle stressful situations.
“I like thinking on my feet, and knowing that I have the knowledge. I learned to trust my instincts and go with my gut, I really liked that feeling,” said Braun.
For someone who likes navigating stressful situations, there’s no better fit than the ICU, and that’s what brought Braun to Fargo.
Except now, she’s the expert.
Before Braun came to Fargo, her current role within the ICU didn’t exist. Her co-workers know she’s been through every storm an ICU nurse may see, and navigated through it. This makes Braun such a great resource for the current ICU nurses.
Not only during a shift, but also when it’s over.
“I act as a mentor during (nurses’) time here to make sure they’re not overwhelmed, they’re debriefing properly, and taking care of themselves,” she said.
Having previously worked as an ICU nurse, Braun became an expert in juggling stressful situations.
This has proved valuable in her new role, as she now juggles personalities, making sure every nurse feels at home.
“It’s definitely different, but it’s still a juggling act, that’s for sure. As a bedside nurse, you don’t have to take your work home. Whereas in this role, everybody has my phone number so they can contact me at any time.
“That way, if the nurse is struggling, they can call me and we can talk through it.”
Braun also helps RNs find professional development opportunities throughout Sanford. Helping nurses at the bedside, allows them to become more confident in their skills and knowledge.
Having that constant contact with both nurses and physicians has hallowed Braun to be a leader in advocating for any potential changes to patient needs.
“As long as you have a valid reason for why you’re asking, the physician usually agrees with you. We’re the ones at the bedside 24/7. They’re very open to your ideas, and I just love that. They’re always willing to educate you, too,” she said. “There is a mutual trust and respect between physicians and nurses in the ICU that is invaluable.”
The COVID-19 pandemic changed everything, including Braun’s daily duties.
In addition to supporting her regular units, Braun was also asked to support the COVID-19 unit.
“I was asked to assist in the COVID unit to help get that up and running, and make sure it’s running smoothly for staff,” she said.
Braun continuously worked on the unit for roughly two and a half months.
“Helping answer calls at the bedside and making sure the unit had the supplies, equipment, and emergency equipment. We needed a ton of supplies, so there was a lot of that work being done,” she said.
Braun also helped to make sure nurses were “proning” patients correctly. Proning is positioning a patient on their stomach, or in the prone position. This temporarily helps with airflow. Braun assisted this by educating nurses and RTs on the safest proning process.
Braun added on those responsibilities, while still checking in on the nurses in the COVID-19 unit in addition to the nurses in the other ICUs.
“Working closely with those nurses to make sure they were supported in a high stress environment, part of my role was making sure the nurses were aware of any policy or safety processes that may have changed, as things were changing daily,” said Braun.
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