Memorial Hospital’s 2015 employee of the year says seeing patients get better is the best reward of the job.
Linda Fritsche, of Swansea, has been on the job a while. The 21-year veteran is currently a charge nurse on the Medical Observation floor at Memorial’s Belleville campus, a post she’s held four years.
She said when she was honored as the employee of the year, she felt overwhelmed.
Q: What’s the function of a medical observation unit?
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A: “Taking care of people after surgery, also people that come in with medical problems. But generally they’re more short-stay people. They’re not there for a long, lengthy stay. I’ve worked on a lot of different floors and this is kind of nice. You get to know people and then they get well and they get out.”
Q: What was it like learning you’d been named employee of the year?
A: “It is very overwhelming because at the moment you look out, there’s like 400 people in front of you. It makes you realize kind of what you really do, that it really is important. Looking out and seeing all the people that you work with on a daily basis and people that make things happen. It’s overwhelming and it’s humbling. Because there are so many different departments that have to integrate to make it an efficient, good day. There are so many people that have to be with you, and you’re at the forefront of delivering care, organizing it, trying to meet patients’ needs, keeping the doctors informed and carrying out their orders. It’s a very complex situation, really.”
Q: Have you been to the new Memorial East in Shiloh?
A: “I have not. I want to go in and look. I just haven’t had the moment yet to get there.”
Q: What have you seen change in 21 years in nursing?
A: “I think probably the biggest thing is computers and integration of technology. Reports come back a lot more quickly than they used to. People are more complex. They come in and have maybe four conditions and you’re treating all of them to some extent. Medicines have advanced, treatments have advanced. We have better laser surgery, which makes stays a lot shorter. But the biggest thing is technology.”
Q: As technology and technique evolve, people have to evolve too. What’s it like trying to stay on top of the wave?
A: “They do provide good education for us. They want everybody to succeed. They’ll give you the tools and resources you need so you can accomplish something. And then when new information and technology is introduced they always have people that you can call that are there as well. You always know there’s someone there to help you. So it hasn’t been so bad. It’s definitely a struggle sometimes because you get into a routine. It’s been a change for everyone. You adapt. You look at this as ‘how is this going to make things easier,’ you can’t go ‘oh gosh, now I have to do this and this.’ You have to have a mindset of changing and moving forward.”
Q: Education in the medical fields has changed a lot, too, with students needing to complete more and more courses and clinical rotations. Your thoughts?
A: “Memorial has Magnet status (a designation from the American Nurses Credentialing Center that recognizes excellence in care), and so Magnet demands that we have good nurses. I think education is excellent. I think everyone should be educated throughout their lives because things are always changing. I think that degrees are important but I think clinical knowledge is number one. A lot of times bedside nursing isn’t looked at as the kind of nursing people want to go into, but I think that’s really where you learn nursing.”
Q: Just as medicine continues to modernize, there are surely things you can’t teach or train someone on. What makes a good nurse a good nurse?
A: “First of all, I think you have to love what you do. If you come to work not in a good mindset, you’re not going to do a good job. You have to be ready and you have to be passionate about it. Number two, I think you have to try to understand your patient. Patients are dealing with many things just like we are. They’re sick, their world is upside down. So what can you do to make that better, and make them better? You have to make them feel at ease with you. People will pretty much tell you what you need to know if you come across as someone very interested in them. You have to know when they go home if they have what they need there or if there’s someone there to help them.”
Q: Earlier you said part of what makes a good nurse good is loving the job. Why do you love it?
A: “Probably a lot of that is that you get to have that immediate reward. You see a patient come in really sick and then you see how you have impacted their lives. When they go home they’re hugging you. It’s a really good transition. There are different levels of reward in the system. I think people sometimes have a reward of thinking ‘I made it through the day.’ Sometimes days can be very complex and difficult to get through. But when you get that patient satisfaction award, that’s it.”
Job: Medical Observation charge nurse, Belleville Memorial Hospital
Advice to nurses: “You have to be ready and you have to be passionate.”