by Jason P. Smith
When Kim Mears, a nurse in Memorial Hospital’s emergency room department, was growing up, she was wooed into the field of nursing by the stories her two aunts told her about their experiences working as nurses.
One of her aunts worked in the OR and the other worked in various fields within nursing, but both had stories the kept the interest of Mears when she was younger.
"They always had so many stories to tell, so I knew from then that (nursing) was the path I wanted to lead," Mears said. "I knew when I was in junior high school. I’ve always been a people person, so I always knew I would interact with people.
"All the personality tests I took in high school always pointed to health care."
Growing up in Illinois, Mears then moved to Georgia after she graduated from high school and earned her BSN from Valdosta State University. She worked briefly in Georgia, starting out on a medical/surgical floor for two years.
"I thought that was a good way to get your foundation in nursing," she said. "It was a good way to get all your medical skills down."
From there, she worked as a rehabilitation manager for a while and then went into cardiac and long term care before working in the emergency department.
"Usually, I’d have two jobs at once just to have a little variety and get two perceptions of the job," she said. "But, when I started in the ED, I just decided to have one job."
She also decided she wanted to have a little more time off to spend with her kids, so just working one job in the ED has helped give her the variety she likes and the free time she needs as well.
Working at Memorial for more than two years, starting on the cardiac floor, she has been in the ED for a year, and has loved it. She came to Memorial as an agency nurse after moving to Colorado with her husband, who was in the Air Force. She was looking to get away from a job situation she was unhappy with and has stayed at the hospital ever since.
"I love it here," she said. "I love all the people I work with in the ED, and our manager is wonderful. Anytime we have any problems or concerns, we just leave a voice mail and he always gets back to us. He also is very approachable and follows up with everything, which is really nice.
"We’re a really close unit on nights," she said. "The doctors are great – they really trust us a lot to be their second pair of eyes, and they really value our opinion. The nice thing about working in such a busy ED is that you come in running and you don’t have a chance to get tired," she said. "You’re always doing something."
"I think the highest number of patients we saw in a 24 hour period was 280," she said. "It’s a lot, but that’s what I love about it. I love the excitement.
"You can get stressed, but it’s a good stress – I could never work at a desk. I love the floor and the interaction."
Although working nights at the busiest ED in the state comes with many challenges, Mears said the most challenging thing she deals with is seeing the same patients over and over again.
"We try to give them the resources and the information, but instead of helping themselves, they kind of depend on us to get them better," she said. "It’s frustrating, because we want to help them so much, but they don’t follow our advice and help themselves."
Mears said she really enjoys the problem solving that takes place working in the ED. "I love when they come in with whatever complaint they have and you have to use your critical thinking skills to find out what is wrong with them and you can fix them – either get them on their way home or admitted to the hospital."
In such a fast-paced environment, Mears also enjoys when patients take the time to thank her and her coworkers for their hard work.
"It’s nice to know that people appreciate you," she said. "One lady made me brownies for helping her one night, which I shared with everyone. It’s things like that that let you know you’re appreciated and that you made a difference in somebody’s life – that’s what’s most rewarding to me.
"I really like the people here at this hospital – you get a good feeling just walking around this hospital. It’s very team-oriented here – it’s a big hospital, but it has a family atmosphere to it."v