by Sarah Sangosti
Brad Pace, RN, knows how quickly a nurse can move up the ranks if the individual’s heart is in the right place. For him, it’s all about timing and knowing when to come full circle.
Pace is in a place of transition right now at Children’s Hospital. He’s working his way back to being a clinical shift nurse at Children’s satellite location in Parker. But to know why he’s going back to staff nursing, you have to understand how he got away from it.
In 1993, Pace graduated with his BSN from the University of Nebraska. While he was in school, he did two summer internships in Atlanta – one in medical surgery and one in the emergency room.
After graduating, he was hired at Cobb Hospital, outside of Atlanta, and worked in the emergency room serving pediatrics and adults. Pace stayed at Cobb for two years, until, as he said, he got the traveling bug.
In 1995, Pace signed up with TravCorps, a nursing contracting company that hires nurses throughout the nation to locations that may be experiencing shortages or have other needs for temporary nursing help. Pace traveled up and down the East Coast on four assignments, which lasted 13 weeks each.
During his TravCorps experiences, Pace was given a pediatric assignment at a Children’s Hospital in Atlanta.
"In my travels and experience in the ER, I got exposure to pediatrics. I floated from time to time and enjoyed it quite a lot," he said.
So when a TravCorps position became available at Children’s Hospital in Denver in 1996, he applied. He did not get that position, but was instead hired as a flex employee in the hospital’s ER. Within three months he was given a permanent nursing position in the emergency department.
Pace began as a staff nurse, but quickly moved up the ranks. Soon he was the clinical coordinator, what he called a fancy term for being the ER charge nurse, and was in that position for four years.
When Children’s Hospital began planning to move its location from downtown to Fitzsimmons, Pace was asked to be part of a planning team that would coordinate the ER’s move to the new location.
At that same time, Children’s was also planning on opening a satellite hospital in Parker. Pace had never considered being in a management position because he loved working in pediatrics, but when he was offered the chance to be the clinical manager at the Parker location in April of 2003, he took it in.
His new position moved him away from day-to-day nursing and into the fast-paced life of opening the Parker location. Pace said the work was more demanding that anyone originally thought, so he was again promoted to director of hospital operations as he got the Parker hospital up and running.
The Parker satellite location is 7,500 square feet of Children’s Hospital located within the Parker Adventist Hospital. It provides all pediatric services to children under the age of 14.
This hospital within a hospital, as Pace described it, serves pediatric sub-specialties, in-patient care and after-hours emergencies.
The sub-specialty care includes urology, cardiology, adolescent gynecology, dermatology, pediatric surgery, neurology, hematology/oncology, and ear, nose and throat, among others.
The ER will move into 24/7 services in January of next year. The in-patient care serves lower-acuity children and minor trauma, among other ailments. There are 14 beds total – six in-patient and eight emergency.
As director of hospital operations, Pace was in charge of it all. Not only did he have to set-up the hospital, but then he had to operate it as well.
"It was incredible – one of the most challenging things, other than my traveling, I’ve ever taken on in my career," Pace said.
But his life was running at too fast of a pace. With a new family, Pace wanted to spend more time with his wife, Darcy, 7-year-old stepson, Anthony, and 16-month-old son, Lucas.
It was time for Pace to take a step back. He hopes to land a project-managing job at Children’s main campus in Denver after the hospital moves to Fitzsimmons.
The job would be similar to what he did setting up the Parker location, but he’d be able to hand off the position once his part’s complete. He’ll also be working as a clinical shift nurse in the hospital in Parker he helped get off the ground.
He’s looking forward to getting back to working with the children.
"I never lost my love for taking care of the kids clinically," he said.
Pace enjoys being a pediatric nurse because the kids’ innocence always makes him happy.
"If you’re coming off a bad day or a bad shift, the kids can turn your day around," he said.
He enjoys working with children more than adults because they’re simply interested in getting better, getting a popsicle and going home, he said, whereas adults have a lot more self-destructive behavior.
Pace said it takes a special person to be a pediatric nurse because it’s such a different stress than working with adults. When working with children, you have to be aware of their needs, but also the needs of their parents and possibly grandparents.
So many children’s situations seem unfair and occurred before they had a true chance at life, he said. He likes to give his pediatric patients at Children’s a better chance at life.
Which is really what’s brought him full circle – Pace was a patient at Children’s Hospital in Denver when he was only a child.
Pace was born with a chest deformity called pectus excavatum, which means his ribs were growing the wrong way. He underwent two major surgeries when he was four and five-years-old, and another one at 12, to alleviate his problem.
He’s come full circle many years later, back to the place that helped him as a child, to help other children with their illnesses.
He said he doesn’t know if his experience at Children’s Hospital as a kid is what motivated him to become a pediatric nurse, but he can’t deny it, either.