CRAFTING WELLNESS STORY

ABOVE AND BEYOND: LIFE IN THE SKIES AS A FLIGHT TRANSPORT NURSE

MDF Instruments Crafting Wellness Podcast sat down with Dr. Marina who inspires others to pursue their passions fearlessly, regardless of how they may be perceived by others. She aims to spread awareness, break stereotypes, and inspire a new generation of doctors who are unafraid to be themselves. In a world where conformity often reigns, this podcast serves as a reminder that we have the power to challenge expectations and make a positive impact no matter how unconventional our paths may be. Her and her best friend started a foundation to recycle bottle caps and donate the money to children fighting cancer. Remember, 'if you think you are too small to make a difference, try going to bed with a mosquito.'

IG: @nursehens
IG: @mdfinstruments

TRANSCRIPT:

Hensley
We pretty much do transports from kind of like the critical access type hospitals to like, let's say like surgical center or a heart center or a stroke center, stuff like that. It's pretty much we get a lot of calls from hospitals that don't have, you know, they do they're obviously they do their absolute best. But sometimes certain hospitals especially in a more rural area, they don't have the means to give total care to that patient. So we will do a lot of those kinds of like ICU transfers to cath labs to cert to surgeries to higher level ICU ECMO transfers.

Brooke Smith
Hi, everyone, welcome to MDF instruments crafting wellness Podcast. Today. I'm really excited. We have a flight nurse on our podcast today.

Hensley
Hey guys, my name is Hensley. I am a transport nurse. I'm a Georgia native. I'm twenty seven years old. So I'm on the younger end for my profession, I've been flying for about two years now. And I absolutely love my job.

Brooke Smith
Yeah, that's so exciting. We've seen a little bit on your TikTok about what a day in the life is like for you. But before we get into all of that, I'm just curious, how did this happen? Did you always know like, nursing was a thing? And then you found transport nursing? Or can you kind of tell us your origin story, if you will, and how you found this career and what spoke to you about it.

Hensley
Honestly, I wasnot one of those like, like for nurses like I did not really have a concept of what nursing was and could be when I was younger, I thought I was going to do something in like Nutrition and Dietetics maybe because I did like science. But I was kind of introduced to nursing when I was really a junior in high school, I got pretty sick, I had some chronic health issues. And I was introduced to the idea of different types of nursing from the inpatient setting to also the outpatient setting. And one of my mom's best friends is was a nurse practitioner at the time. So I sat down with her and talk to her about her path. And that kind of set me kind of on the nursing path and kind of throughout school. Like once I was accepted into the nursing program. I started to put the pieces together. I remember it was my sophomore year, it was my pathophysiology class absolutely loved that class. And not one of my teachers was a nurse practitioner and the trauma burn ICU. And then the other one was a flight nurse. And I just remember the stories that she would tell about her that both of them truly but I just remember my professor that was a flight nurse, I just remember, her stories were just so intriguing to me. And on the other hand, my nurse practitioner professor, like just the critical care aspect also. So I knew I wanted to do somebody who's going to prepare, and then the flight or thinking just kind of like it was always in the back of my head. So I knew I wanted to do ICU or level one er, just because that's part of the prerequisites in order to fan to flight nurse job. I just kind of, I always kind of kept it in the back of my mind is like my goal. And then when I was a new grad in the ICU, my mentor was a flight nurse. So it all just kind of like really came together. For me, I got a lot of great advice over the years from all of my mentors before I took this job. And it justkind of really fell into place.

Brooke Smith
Yeah, it's so interesting, because I talk to all different kinds of healthcare professionals. And it always seems like, especially with nursing is there's so many different avenues you can take, like, I get really lost and like wow, you can you can do one thing and hop over to something else. Because the skills you learned there are what you need to here. Can you talk a little bit about what schooling was like? And training was like? Because I think I noticed something that you had posted about and I'm going to reference it really fast. How do I become a flight nurse? and you talk about the three to five years in the ICU or level one, the alphabet course the Trauma course ,national certification. And some flight companies also require nurses to obtain an NREMT or paramedic license. So can you talk a little bit it's that sounds like a lot.

Hensley
It really, it really is a lot especially when you kind of get into the thick of it. But I started that process when I was really young in my nursing career also, just because I knew truly where I wanted my path to go. I pretty much immediately when I hit I want to say, with my national certification, I got the CCRN, which is the critical care, national certification, I pretty much started studying for that within a year of being a nurse. And then I took it because you have to have, I want to say 1750 hours of patient contact time in an ICU setting. So pretty much when I hit that mark, I took the exam. And then as far as the alphabet courses, so ACLs and pals, that's those are pretty much standard requirements for all ICUs pals may not necessarily unless you're pediatrics, but I obtained both of those both pals and ACLs, within my first two years, 18 months to two years, also of being a nurse, so I like jumped on everything pretty quickly. And then the trauma course, I also that was also within the first, that was probably a little over two years, I took the trauma course. And then I took another trauma course, like a pre hospital based on the course once I took this job, because as nurses, we don't unless you work your medic prior, you don't have any pre hospital experience, which is why having a nurse impairment hearing is so great for the environment, I got all of those things, before I took the job, and then I actually completed an EMT course while I was on orientation, here for my job. So I was able to kind of do some REITs as like an EMT completed all that course did the psychomotor and the cognitive portion as well. I also now have my NREMT. And it was it's a lot of work. But it's like, if you really want to do it, you'll make it happen. And I really wanted to do it and I made it happen.

Brooke Smith
Yes, you did. And that does sound like a lot of work from the time you started nursing school to the time you were able to apply to a job like the one that you have, how long would you say I know, you sound like you're a little bit on the fast track? You were? Aren't you're multitasking be able to take one on top of the other simultaneously maybe. So for your for your experience in it. How long would you say that that process is like on the fast track, kind of like what you did,

Hensley
I did three years. And I tell everybody this, I would do five years at a minimum of bedside just because three years, you know, and I'm happy with the way that I did it, I do not regret it. Because I learned so much about myself as a clinician, as well as myself as a human. You know, I moved to a state where I knew no one I really had to, I really grew a lot in both of those areas. So I don't necessarily regret doing it that way. I was also so motivated, I was super motivated to be successful here. Because I said I was like I'm moved states for this job. And if I'm going to fail at it, I'm going to live surely die trying. But I always tell people, I'm like just just do five years at the bedside, because every shift at the bedside, you will learn something new, every shift is a nurse, you'll learn something new. And so I think just five years, you will just be so much more grounded in your craft than it three years just because at three years, you're like, okay, like I kind of figured this thing out, you know, and then it's like, you kind of fine tune those skills, I think in those next two years, and then I think it's a good time, that's just personal take total personal take everyone's different, I clearly did not do it that way. But I do think you know, at least five is a really is a really, really solid number and a really good number on an application as well.

Brooke Smith
That's something I say a lot that people can't take away your experience. So exactly however how much experience you have, like you'll always have it that's just more for you to put under your belt that's going to make you better at any job that you have. Whatever it is, the more experience just the more you're going to be able to feel more confident what you're doing, you're gonna know the answers quicker.

Hensley
And it's likebedside like bedside critical care, or er, like any of those like high acuity areas like it, there's so much value and there's so much knowledge in it and that it's like I feel like sometimes it can get a little bit lost on people but it's like those gears and the ICU that I spent, I loved and I learned so much. Even in three years. Like I learned more than I ever thought that I could have, you know, so it's like just imagine you have those three years. Imagine two more you know what I mean? There's no The thing is flight nursing is always going to be there like there really is not a rush. So that's what I tell kind of new grads that I talked to that have reached out to me so don't rush it. Enjoy the process. You will learn so much In your first five years on the job so much that nursing school could not tell you, and so much that will better prepare you to take even better care of patients, the more the more experience that you have, you know, I just think bedside experience is just an invaluable part of any white nurse, period.

Brooke Smith
Can you can you talk a little bit about what your strengths are? Like? Are you most of them? How long are they? And also, can you walk us through a typical, let's just start with like a normal day that is, you know, like an average, if you were to take an average day as a as a transplanters. Can you talk a little bit about that.

Hensley
So we do twelves, a lot of places will do 20 fours, but they're, you know, it's, it's kind of a toss up, it just depends where you go, I do twelves that I am night shift. So we also do some ground as well. So sometimes I'll clock into a shift, I'll go grab, because we have like our little work phones that we use to communicate with our communication center who pages this out for who dispatches us for calls. And I'll also see where some of our other teams are. And then I will go kind of check in with our pilots. Before we do kind of a big briefing, always do a safety briefing prior to any all shifts. Even if it's a small one we always, always always communicate with, with our pilots regarding weather regarding any mechanical issues that may have come up during the day or anything like that. I really appreciate how much safety is like hammered into this arena, just because it is it's a it's a high risk area just because you're, you're in a helicopter, right or an airplane. So we'll do kind of like a big briefing when we fly do a pilot. So we have our two pilots, we'll have our communication center on the phone, we'll have myself and then my paramedic partner or my nurse partner, sometimes we will fly through in our system sometimes will fly a nurse and a paramedic, a critical care paramedic. So we'll kind of all sit around kind of discuss, you know, who's on what phones we have, our pilots, who they are, who our mechanic on call is, that's very important. If any sort of mechanical issue arises overnight, they will come and they'll check out the aircraft no matter what time it is. So we'll just kind of discuss. If there's anything pending, sometimes we'll get requests for like a planned transport, maybe able to. Sometimes we battle with insurance, as far as authorization, stuff like that. Sometimes there will be something waiting for us. Sometimes there will be a very critical patient waiting for us where it's kind of like go go go like check all your stuff, do a briefing real quick. And then we're helicopters already out on the tarmac, and we're off. So if that doesn't happen, I'll go out and check the aircraft, make sure everything's in the aircraft, all of our airway supplies, all of our oxygen is up to par where it needs to be. Because if it's not, we'll have to refill the oxygen. Just you know, a lot of the time, it's just like, we're just going we're gonna go on calls, sometimes we'll do ground and we'll come back to base to fly in the middle of the night that that happens a lot. We are at the mercy of just whoever really.

Brooke Smith
So are you typically transporting patients from like, for example, a hospital that might not be able to treat someone and another hospital can treat better? Are you transporting patients like that? Are you? What kind of patients are you transporting? Are you transplanting organs for transplants,

Hensley
I would love to do that; organ transport. We don't do that. But I've always thought that was a super cool kind of entity of transport where we pretty much do transports from kind of like the critical access type hospitals to like, Sergent, let's say like surgical center or a heart center or a stroke center, stuff like that. It's pretty much we get a lot of calls from hospitals that don't have, you know, they do they're obviously they do their absolute best. But sometimes certain hospitals especially in a more rural area, they don't have the means to give total care to that patient. So we will do a lot of those kinds of like ICU transfers of to cath labs to cert to surgeries just to a higher level ICU ECMO transfers, we'll do kind of like ECMO referrals or pre ECMO. So we're bridging them from a referring facility to our so that you know surgeries already there surgeries waiting to cannulated pretty much by the time we get there with those types of patients.

Brooke Smith
Yeah, and obviously these patients are critical, because otherwise they wouldn't necessarily need to be flown unless it's a better distance of a place that they need to go to

Hensley
And that happens sometimes to also just even like for like more stable patients that may need surgery, but they're stable at the moment. But it's a long distance flight. Those can be those can be flown appropriately also.

Brooke Smith
That makes sense. I wonder, since patients are so critical, and this is a kind of a question I have, you know, an oxygen, obviously, we need oxygen to live. And you know, you people can be on oxygen and I know that altitude, does altitude effect versus oxygen and you guys float fly at a lower altitude so that that's not really happening. A little nervous. Teachers may be critical, or maybe having trouble keeping their oxygen levels up.

Hensley
Typically, whatwhere we fly we aren't, we aren't so high above sea level. So we'll see that more and like the fixed wing environment for sure. When you see kind of a patient D setting with the altitude occasionally, but not not typically in the aircraft just because we don't fly high. Typically, we don't fly high enough. In order for that to necessarily be a factor, but it's something it's something that's always considered is the pressure. And it's like the barometric pressure and oxygen demand as well is always considered.

Brooke Smith
Yes. And when you're doing these 12 hour shifts, you said usually you'll either have another transplant nurse or another paramedic who is truly a trauma paramedic. So it's not just you by yourself.

Hensley
No, I couldn't not No way. I could not. None of us could do this job. So there's no way. And again, that's something that I never, you know, there's so much that goes into successfully transporting an ICU patient, you are running, so many drips, you are running a ventilator, you are running arterial lines, you are run set like you have, there's so much to manage, there's no way I mean, I'm sure there's probably a way but the team dynamic it works. It works because it's it's transport to me is like the biggest team sport, like you have to be able to work very in parallel to your partner, like you both have to be on the same page. It's a team effort, because it really is the two of you, and you can walk into a room and it's or like a trauma bay, and it is total chaos. But if you and your partner are on the same page, and you clearly communicate with them, all of the rest of it is you of course gonna listen to the physician and the nurse and rapport and everything like that. But there can be a lot going on around you. And as long as you and your partner are very much, you know, on the same page as far as what your plan is, and stuff like that, like it will be a much smoother call, even if the patient D compensates just because you kind of go in with a little bit of a game plan. I'll always try to talk to my partners, if we're note that we're going on like a pretty critical call, like what are we going to do if this happens, we'll kind of play a little bit of a what if game kind of on the way just so we can kind of, we can all kind of be on the same wavelength as far as like, Okay, if this happens, this is what we're going to do. If this happens, this is what we're going to do. So we can just already have like supplies, drugs, all that stuff. And like, when I've done that calls that are super intense go much better that way.

Brooke Smith
Yeah, I've never been on a helicopter, but I imagine it's probably very loud. Um, how, what are the challenges as a transport nurse that? I mean, obviously, I know that you have your stethoscope and your you know, but how do you even hear when you're when you're in a helicopter, which I imagine is very loud and noisy? Is that? Is that a challenge and have you

Hensley
like so we were obviously like, hearing protection and stuff like that. So we can talk to each other. But as far as, which is why an assessment is so important prior to lifting, because you really can't like auscultation and when you're in there, you know, like you really can't. So that's why it's, you know, looking at other ways also to assess your patient. You know, the patient has a pneumothorax you're going to, you know, look at their chest, you're going to look at their vital signs, if that happens in the air. So there are you know, you have to really be able to nail down your assessment like very confidently and very accurately just because when you put a patient in the helicopter like you're taking away other means of assessing so you just really have to pay attention to other parts of say a respiratory assessment to kept The SATs, chest excursion on the vent, your hips go super hot. You know, there are just other ways that you can assess them to kind of figure out what's going on. But again, that's why a primary assessment is so important in in this part of nursing.

Brooke Smith
You ever have family members loved ones trying to get on the helicopter? Like do they ever try to you know, because I know people when their loved ones go in an ambulance, for example, to transport to a different hospital different means people are like, Hey, can can we drive along, and a helicopter is only so big, I'm sure with all of the equipment, and the two of you and the pilots. I'm sure there's not room for that. But do you ever have any contact with family or loved ones that are trying to put themselves on the ride to be with their loved one that's so critical.

Hensley
So actually, we are able to accommodate one family member, depending on weight and balance of the aircraft. So each aircraft airframe, depending on how big it is, we fly a little bit of a bigger airframe, so we can normally accommodate a family member. Now again, sometimes if it's going to be a very, and sometimes they'll elect to not go. Especially if it's a very involved patient, sometimes we will say, you know, we always like to offer, sometimes they will elect to not take it, but it's always there. But we always do a safety briefing, it's always a, Hey, these are the possibilities, you must stay calm, you must stay in your seatbelt, you must stay with your hearing protection on. So we kind of make that judgment call as well. But we will go through kind of the, and we go through this anyways, with family members. If they're there at the bedside, we'll kind of go through risks and stuff like that,

Brooke Smith
what is your favorite part of being a transport nure, it doesn't have to be one thing, it can be a couple of things that are your favorite things about what you do.

Hensley
I like not knowing when I'm about to walk into. And that sounds kind of you know, it's even more than for me at least, it's even more than kind of an ICU because you never really know what your assignments gonna be. But you can anticipate it a little bit, but it's like on transport, you have no clue what you're gonna walk into, it could be a very calm shift is maybe like a call or two, or you could just be flying all night back to back to back super critical. And they could range anywhere from post arrest patient to a neuro patient to it, it's just the variety that you get is unreal, you just and you just never know, because sometimes you could get a request for a certain disease process. And it could be that it's these process. But it could also be about four or five other things that aren't going to be relevant to keeping the patient safe on transport and having a successful transport. There's just so like, the possibilities are really endless, honestly, and that's what I like about it the most. It's just, it's a challenge every single time. It's a challenge. Every time I always walk out of a shift being like, okay, especially on those supercritical calls, there are some software, it's a little bit you know, more calm, and it's a little bit more straightforward, but especially on those calls where you're trying one thing after another after another after another to have a good patient outcome. I mean, those are the columns that I'll like sit with. And I'll be like, Okay, what did we do here, we'll debrief about those two as a team. And sometimes as a, as like a whole department as well, we'll do case like sometimes we'll pull certain ones for like case studies and just warming and stuff like that. So yeah, it's just it's constant learning. It really is, and just different ways of doing things and different ways of thinking about certain disease processes. And it's a lot of application,

Brooke Smith
a lot of autonomy.

Hensley
So much autonomy.And that's why I say five years, five years, everyone, just because it's so it's a lot of responsibility, you are just handed all of this responsibility. up to me and my partner, there's two of you. And normally with a supercritical patient, when we walk into the ICU, you're greeted with several physicians, a surgical team, a whole team of nurses, respiratory therapists, you're greeted with so many people and it's like, two people manage that patient on transport. You know, so it's, it's a lot of responsibility, which is again, why I say the more bedside experience you have, the better.

Brooke Smith
Yeah, what's the longest transport you've done is varies like minutes or hour or how it was the longest trip you've had to do.

Hensley
Finally, they can go just because especially a lot of our critical case, patients also come from a long ways away. So So between the time of getting there stabilizing them trying to hit sometimes you have to do the bedside procedures, intubations and stuff like that. So that is TASKI. So I mean, then it can be a couple hours long, just purely because of this and not always this super quick. Unfortunate, unfortunately, the gagging a couple of hours.

Brooke Smith
Yeah. And you're working 12 hour shifts. So are you doing similar to an ICU nurse in the hospital where they do like three on and then have a couple of days off? Or how does that? How does that work for you,

Hensley
I'll do three in a row, especially for nightshift, just because it totally messes with your head. And I'm not a great night shifter, which, you know, I knew my position was going to be night shift. And I was going to be on night shift for a while just because my co workers all have been transport nurses for much longer than I have and deserve this seniority. But yeah, I like to do my three in a row. And then we'll also take a call shift every week. So it's three shifts and a call shift. And that call shift is pretty much reserved for if our night and it's at night. So it's like if our night team is busy, on another call and a critical call comes in. They will they'll dispatch kind of the on call team, but we'll be on we're on call for call. So pretty much just keeping our phones out loud and stuff like that.

Brooke Smith
So the more experience you have, the longer you get your seniority, then eventually you'll be able to go into day shifts. Is that kind of the goal?

Hensley
Yes. I think all nurses can kind of feel this. I mean, there are some nurses that are night shifters for life. And I totally commend those people I wish I was you it would make life a lot easier. But I like to live my life outside of work on a day shift schedule. So the flopping back and forth, I've gotten a lot more used to it now being on night shift for over, because I would alternate in the when I was bedside. So I would spend time on day shift and then time on night shift. So I kind of saw about like a little bit of a normal schedule. But being truly on night, it's been a really adjustment. For me.

Brooke Smith
I imagine it's hard. I know that there's all kinds of tricks, the blackout curtains and all of that stuff. Can you tell me what time does your shift start? Are you starting at like 6pm to 6am? Are you starting later? What time typically are you starting your 12 hours.

Hensley
So we start at seven 7pm and aren't get off time is more of a you know, it's what we'd always kind of say it's more of a suggestion, just because sometimes you will get those late calls, and I am no stranger to those late critical calls where you are in the helicopter, after six in the morning going to get that ICU patient that needs to come to us like to the hospital now, that needs that more total definitive care now and I mean, you know, I think everyone on transport can kind of empathize with this, it's not you don't get on, if you get out on time, it's a great day. But normally, a lot of the time, that's not always the case, I've gotten a couple hours, guys might get off time and it's all for purpose, right? Like, you're not just gonna abandon the patient. And again, on the flip side, if you're in the helicopter, and it's you know, 730 in the morning, you're gonna finish that call. So you know, you have to be I think you have to be very adaptable, to do transport just purely because it's organized chaos. As far as like ship times and stuff like that, like getting off on time. And it's just, it's a lot you have to be ready to kind of do whatever within the means of your job. Let's say the aircraft is down for a mechanical issue and the mechanics working on it. Yeah, you got to start driving or yes, it's six in the morning but you've got to go pick up this patient like you have to just kind of be able to roll with the punches and even with the patient because again what you get on that dispatch, there could be 1000 Other things wrong with that patient that is going to be relevant to you and your treatment of them

Brooke Smith
Yeah, it doesn't sound like a job for people who are really OCD like I clock in at this time and I click at this time I'm very time you feel like you have to be very flexible and in those cases if you're working like two or three extra hours Pastor 12 hour shift Are you still expected to come in obviously for your next shift right on time, so you're just not getting as much rest and sleep.

Hensley
So you have to at a minimum hit 10 hours of downtime it's about 10 to 12 hours. So I mean, and the good thing about ours is we have kind of a little bit of a buffer it's not just like a day to night shift we do have like that kind of like an ER there's like some overlap with us also we do have a shift in between days and nights. So there is a little bit of a buffer if you know if we get off late and we are coming in at like eight or 9pm Like there is still a team on at that time. So there is There is some wiggle room there for like, just automatically kind of built in as well.

Brooke Smith
Obviously, if you're really challenging job, it's a high stress environment, you know, people's lives are at stake, there's a lot of pressure. So I kind of want to talk a little bit about, obviously, you have to be extremely strong mentally, to be able to keep your cool and get this done. And, you know, also know that like, at a certain point, there's only so much you can do. And so I kind of want to talk about what that's like for you as far as your mental health and what you do to take care of yourself and how you mean, are you really good at compartmentalizing? Or do you have any advice for people who may not be in transport nursing, but maybe they're in ICU nursing or wanting to get into another critical care situation where the pressure is high, and you do lose patience? And, you know, it's it's definitely a stressful time. And nurses by nature, I think, very empathetic. And so how do you kind of protect yourself and get back to like, staying, you know, mentally sane, with with all that you go through?

Hensley
I think it was, it was a huge, it's been a career long process for me, you know, I think the ICU I came from was so high in acuity. I mean, we had so many codes, so many deaths. And so it's like, you know, you have to find what works for you. And I was not good at compartmentalization for probably the first 18 months at all, in my, in my ICU job just because, you know, that's one thing that can't teach you in school, especially if you go in into, you know, a high acuity area right out of school, they can't, you can't simulate that, that feeling that you feel when like, you had this patient for so long, and then they traumatically coded, and you know, they didn't make it, you can't prepare yourself for something like that. It unfortunately, it's just something, if you are going into this type of environment, like you just have to kind of brace yourself and just kind of go along with it. Because there's nothing that you can do to really mentally air. And I, you know, I was very naive to that. And so I think if you kind of go in with that awareness of like, okay, it's going to happen, and I'm probably going to feel a certain way about it. I don't know what that feeling necessarily is, but just kind of anticipating that, I think is, you know, could be beneficial. For some people, I know, it would have been beneficial for me, because I don't know why it was just so shocking to me like that feeling of, you know, because we're human beings, like, especially if you've been caring for people like for, you know, an ICU patient for however many shifts in a row and something happens and they pass away. Like, that's really difficult. And that's something that I don't think a lot of people really touch on, about how Yes, it's horrific for the family 100% It is horrific when it happens. But you also feel some type of way about it. And I would take it home and I would like ruminate and I just would feel some level of guilt, even though I know it wasn't me type thing. And so I think just over the years, like learning, I said, Okay, he's like, you can feel this grief for 24 hours. And then we've got to keep going, you know what I mean? Like, I feel like I'm good now, like letting myself feel a certain way. Whatever that needs to be feel, sad, angry, whatever. And then you've just, unfortunately, you got to move on. Because in order to go back to work, you have to be able to work. And I think I've really hit like kind of a fork in the road when I was a newer nurse that was probably almost two years into my job, I had a really traumatic code. And I was like, I don't know if I can come back from this. And I just kind of had to decide like, like you either you either you're gonna either have to do something else, or you're just gonna have to make the decision up in your mind. You know, remember, move on. And I think finding those outlets, you know, whether it's going for a run, writing in a journal talking to go into therapy, we love therapy, going to therapy, just doing something to kind of remind yourself that it's okay, and that the world does keep turning. It's like as a nurse, like, in order to keep going back. You have to you have to find a way to move on. And as far as like dealing with the pressure of this job. I mean, that was a whole other set of challenges in and of itself because it really is you on on that helicopter. And you know when things happen, it's hard to think, you know, could I have done this? Could I have done that? Did I do this right? Which is why I'll always ask position shins, or like all run things by, you know, my team members that have been transport that I've been transport nurses much longer than me kind of what they would do just to better myself for the next time. And it's not anything, you know, necessarily, like life and death even it's just, you know, this is kind of what I did this was the scenario, what would you have done if you were in my shoes. And I think that especially in this type of environment, where there is so much pressure, asking people humbling yourself and asking people that know better than you is the most. If you can do that, I think not necessarily you'll be set, but you'll set yourself up for more success. If you can humble yourself in that way.

Brooke Smith
It's invaluable. I think when you can, it's I don't think, I don't think there's a trait or characteristic that everyone has, I can relate to what you're saying, because in my lifetime, very similar, if there's something that I come up some sort of thing that happens, and I end up with a certain way, I will kind of go back and look at it, every angle and every perspective that I can think of where could I have improved here? What could I have done better? Could anything that I have done, changed this scenario? Or fixed it or whatever, whatever it is, and I'm trying to do that I will ask others opinions. And it's not that it's not that you're not sure of yourself and the decisions you made in the moment. But it's collaborative effort of saying, well, from your perspective, what would you have done and that's a great way that's that only makes you not only an incredible nurse, but also I think a better human being because aspects of our lives, if we can get through it, try to understand from another, another perspective, like there's things we miss all the time. And obviously, right when someone is sick, it's, it's, we're all unique, every single person outstanding is unique. So the way that I get sick of it, even if we have the same sickness is not going to be the way that your body handles the sickness, you're going to have us in our bodies in different ways. From strength. And so, you know, it's part of that is like a guessing game, like what's going to work on one patient might not work on another patient,

Hensley
Yeah, but getting the invaluable information, then when you can recognize, okay, this patient is similar to a patient I had before. And now they're not the same polarities. Now, what, what maybe would have worked for them? can this possibly work for this patient? Rather than more guessing around but I think what you're talking about is extremely valuable. I would always say to people, always ask questions always uncover more truth and just uncover more possibilities of a situation. Because I feel like it's like a walk. There's a million different pass codes you could use. There's so many. Yeah, so yeah, I definitely think for a job like this, you have to come into it with a lot of self awareness of your own skill set. And also, I just, you know, because I've talked about this among kind of peers, as well, recently I to have them come visit me and we all kind of said the same thing. Like you have to commit to this job, especially if you're on the younger end, you have to come into this job with so much humility, because you are scratching the surface of your career. And if you don't, and you just think that you know, everything, like you are not setting yourself up for success in any type of way, like coming at this job with a lot of humility, and a lot of self awareness is so important. Because you have to know what you don't know. And if you think that you know, everything. You don't,

Brooke Smith
Yeah, and you're nursing, healthcare in general, this, I feel like one of the only careers or maybe the woman career where, I guess, first responders and stuff as well, if it is a career where you can die. Multiple people can die in a shift that you're on, and you have to just continue as if nothing, maybe you have to continue, continue doing your job and not be emotionally affected by this trauma that you just experienced. Because even if you don't know the person that well even if you haven't had shifts with them, it's still human life is still going to make you feel something, you know, so in that expectation of like, Oh, I lost a patient. And now I have to I have to go take another call and I have to go and I have to go give all my all my best for this other next patient. That has to be just because the strength that you and everyone who does that has is just It's unfathomable. I think it's it's not talked about enough because you know, then you have to go home on like your personal time. And then you have to like deal with all the emotional aspect of what you've experienced. That I think the advice that you gave is so smart because, you know, just let it feel it, but just don't stay there. And I think either refuse to feel it, they push it down so far that they just keep going and they don't deal with it for they deal with it. And then they just stay there for way too long. And in brief is funny that way and, you know, affects people differently. But I think the advice that you said was just perfect, where it's like, I let myself for 24 hours, and then I have to like, get up and walk to the next patient so that I can be my best in service of others moving forward. But that doesn't mean that you feel things that I think you're like, okay, like, I understand that feelings aren't bad or good, like, You got to get them out, somehow catch them send in our bodies, let me feel it. And then if I'm still feeling it past 24 hours, I got to say, Nope, we're done, we can't wait.

Hensley
You have to set it, you have to set really strong boundaries with yourself and with the job like you really do necessary skill is to set those boundaries because especially in our high acuity area, it will eat you alive. If you don't set those boundaries with yourself. And with your job,

Brooke Smith
that constant your face, that you're your career facing these people who are very sick or on the verge of death, or, you know, very extremely vulnerable, I would think that would make you value life in a different way. Because you're surrounded so much by the opposite about by the end of the life or the fighting for the life, that it would make you value your time even more and value and appreciate the preciousness that is nice and the gift that we have every day to just be here and be alive and be healthy. You have any thoughts on that?

Hensley
It really does kind of put it into a certain perspective,

Brooke Smith
My dad, you know, my dad was an ICU, I lost him and he was in ICU for two months. But I was there all the time. And so I observed a lot of things. Some more interesting to me, like a lot of healthcare workers like down like overnight shifts, like three energy drinks, you know, and I'm like, You're literally surrounded by people who are in critical condition, whether it's an accident or whether it's because of other things that you would think the that you would be more conscientious of what you're putting in your body. But I found that after my dad passed, I started drinking a lot of cokes was like so much sugar. And I like it was almost like a self sabotage thing, like almost dealing with the grief and the stress and whatever. And I like the taste of Coca Cola as though it was hear me drinking Cokes. And I thought about it. And I'm like, wow, you know, when you're really stressed out, even though it's so counterintuitive, right? You're thinking, Oh, I should be way more healthy. I shouldn't be eating these chips, or the soda or these energy drinks, or whatever it is. But for some reason, I found myself doing the opposite. And I found when I was in the hospital for those two month, I found a lot of healthcare workers kind of also emulating that the opposite. And so I just wonder, are you is that a battle you you work? Are you really conscientious about what you're putting in your body because of the preciousness that is life.

Hensley
just kind of doing the best you can to like, kind of stay awake and get through this shift because I mean, it is exhausting to stay up overnight, night after night. And just you know, and be especially in an ICU and like be on and be able to think like, you know, sometimes it takes people a lot of caffeine

Brooke Smith
you're helping people, right, you're helping them to towards being healthy, whatever that means for that individual person. But almost in order to give them that gift, you are kind of nurses in general, I think are kind of self inflicting the unhealthiness on themselves to save the person to be healthy. It's this kind of weird cycle of like, okay, well I have to work a 12 hour shift and I have to stay up and I don't have time to go get my lunch and I didn't have time to pack so I'm eating some Doritos and like whatever is. And it's and then on night shift I imagine the amount of sleep that you get, or the quality of your sleep. I can only relate because I did three 12 hour shifts in a row one's not in gear but they were night shifts like 6pm to 6am and then it was like an hour and a half drive each way. So it's another and I found myself kind of wired when I got home at like 8:30am and then it would be like okay, black out the curtains the night whatever the night. The night eye shields and stuff. I find myself I could sleep for like four hours, or like hours and then I couldn't go back to, like I had that like anxiousness about some tear, you know? So I know. Just yeah. And over time, if you're doing in a short amount of time, even a couple of years, our bodies your young, like, we can get through stuff, right. But those people who are doing it for years and years and years, it's like, the toll that healthcare people take on their bodies in the service of other, it really is wild to me, because I'm like that and the service others your hurting yourself.

Hensley
Yeah, it's a lot especially honestly, like sometimes after those shifts, where I get off late from, like, a super critical call, like I am, like, it takes me like two hours to like, get home. And it's like to add just because, you know, the adrenaline that you feel from certain calls and stuff. I mean, it's, it's wild, like the way that you know, the body works and handles stress and stuff in a very physical way. So yeah, I mean, it takes me sometimes a while, like, fall asleep, and like, you know, let it leave my brain for a little bit. Just because it's like sometimes those calls are super intense. And you're just like, you're worried about the patient to like, what happened after and stuff like that? So yeah, I mean, it's it's it's a it's a battle constantly on night shift.

Brooke Smith
What do you do to physically get the stress out of your body? Do you run?

Hensley
I am a workout girlie. For sure. I especially for something like that. Like it's

Brooke Smith
just Blast the music.

Hensley
You gotta find a way to metabolize it mentally? Also,

Brooke Smith
How do you maintain like a good work life balance? In such a stressful job with all the mental aspects, emotional pressure, stress, all that stuff? And can you talk a little bit about what you'd like to do outside of work, more fun hobbies, interests, things you enjoy doing? In your free time.

Hensley
I love being outside, like, whenever I can get outside the better. I recently, probably like six months ago, I bought a paddleboard and I just for hours, like I'll just go out on the water and just like paddleboard for hours, just it's so quiet, but it's so you know, it's physical. So it is a workout, it's like a full body workout. It's just like, great, who's gonna, like get back out into nature, like have some fresh air, you know, and just kind of be very present as something very peaceful about being in nature and just connecting with, yeah,

Brooke Smith
if you could go back and tell your younger self a piece of advice or something you wish your younger self known, were being any piece of advice, that's just kind of your mantra, or something that holds you Well, dear to your heart? Do you have anything like that, that you would give yourself? Like,

Hensley
again, like, It's so cheesy, but it's like her every door that closes like a better one's going to open, like, you just have to be patient, and you just really have to trust the process. Because even at the bedside, you know, I went, I was I went through a hard time. And it was just like, it felt like a door was closing. And I was just kind of like, where do I go from here, you know, and that's when this opportunity was presented. So you just never know what's gonna be on the other side, you just have to again, just keep going, like trust the process, it's all going to work out and be patient, or I would tell myself to be patient, for sure. let everything happen the way it's supposed to happen. Continue to work hard, continue to go after your goals. But timing is everything. And just the timing will be perfect. And it will align when it's supposed to align. Don't rush it, enjoy it. Trust the process. You just have to ride the wave, especially as a new nurse, ride the wave, enjoy it. You're gonna wish you were back here one day, you know, like, it's such a fun time, because it's, you're just constantly learning you're absorbing so much. And I would, yeah, that's what I would tell my younger self, just the process, be patient. Enjoy it. Have fun with it, learn everything that you possibly can. There's going to be a time where you wish you were that new again.

Brooke Smith
It's really good advice, especially in healthcare. times you can get discouraged you can't pass the test. You get again, we're, you know, you there's so many avenues of disappointment that can happen throughout life, no matter what you're doing. So I think that's really great advice that, you know, it's hard to hear in the moment, like, you get the job really wanted that door, you know,

Hensley
so bad. I thought I deserved that. I worked really hard for it XYZ, but it's like, it wasn't meant for you. Then if you worked so hard, and you did all these necessary steps then you're meant for something else. And again, that's another thing I would tell myself you are meant for something else, like period point blank. If the door closes and you did all this necessary work that you felt like you were supposed to do take the feedback and keep going because something else is just around the corner. Yeah,

Brooke Smith
I couldn't agree more. Can you tell me what your first stethoscope meant to you?

Hensley
I've been in MDF for life or long before this, like long before this, but it was just kind of like that moment of like, oh my gosh, like, it's me. I am the nurse type thing. It was almost like a little, a little hit of reality. Also, that, okay, I am I am the nurse now. And it's just like a cool experience to have when you're, you know, whenever you graduate nursing school, whether you're 22 or you're in your 40s like, which is the great thing about nursing is you can start at any age maybe even older than 40 but it's like you can start at any a surreal look at this someone that you've worked for and even envision yourself doing for so long. And then it's like a lap stethoscope isn't mine. The scrubs are mine. The badge is mine. I can clock in and like actually get into the unit. And it doesn't say student you know it's it's it's a cool experience, which is why I tell people don't wish it away excited about your first stethoscope be excited about your first hospital badge. Like, it's such a fun season to be in. And it's you know, don't wish it away but and always feel the joy. You know, always feel the joy of that first step. And so we all geeked out over our first stethoscopes and stuff I mean, I know I didn't like and my friends do you know like everyone geeked out over it. So you download red Joe, enjoy it. Enjoy the process, because there will be a time when you're not in it and you wish that you were

Brooke Smith
when I was little my parents. You're gonna want this back like, you're this best time you don't even know I'm like, whatever. I want to be an adult so I can pay my own bills and like do it.

Hensley
Overrated.

Brooke Smith
So overrated?

Hensley
Overrated?

Brooke Smith
Is adulting is overrated. I agree. Um, so for everyone listening and watching and they're gonna want to know where to follow you. I know you're you're big on Tik Tok a lot of content over there. I think you do have an Instagram, but I'm not sure if that's a place where you can go follow. But can you go ahead and drop wherever people can come find us and then follow you or talk to you asking questions. And if you wouldn't mind. And you could also just spell it out. So people who are just kind of scary to be listening that way.

Hensley
So I want to say on TikTok right now. I am @nursehens, so NURSEH E and S and I want to say my app is just ns, h e n s. That's what everyone calls me. It's obviously short for Hensley mainly on tick tock I mainly that's where I put all my nursing stuff. I'm starting to dabble in Instagram, but I don't know Instagrams, like a whole other beast for me. Same handle as TikTok

Brooke Smith
Thank you so much for joining our property wellness podcast. You're very inspiring. We love watching you and all the content you make and the awesome career that you're doing and being there for people during these really cute times in their lives. It's really cool to watch and hear you so we just want to say thank you so much for your taking the time to join us today.

Hensley
Now, thank you guys again. Like I have loved the company for years. So when I saw thank you guys like like something like, you know, a couple months ago, I was like, Oh my gosh, like I have to send them a message you know, so this has been really it's been really cool for me, you know, a little new brand and so we would like you know be screaming and stuff. So thank you so much for your time.

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