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All in a day’s work and play for three nurses

Nurses are known for accomplishing more in a day than most mere mortals do in a week. From the Spring 2011 issue of Scrubs, secrets from three multitalented, multitasking RNs–a triathlete, a volunteer and a deejay–on how they make being superhuman seem so simple.

ICU nurse and triathlete Kiersten Henry sets her own pace. 

Three years ago, Kiersten Henry decided to start practicing what she preached. A cardiac nurse practitioner and member of the cardiac vascular team at Montgomery General Hospital in Olney, Md., Henry regularly coached her patients on how to ease into exercise, starting slowly with something that appealed to them. Having let her own workout routine lapse, Henry resumed running three days a week. Within a month, the former high school athlete had picked up the pace and started to train for a triathlon.  “I’m very goal focused,” explains Henry, 34,who’s now competed in numerous races, including a half ironman. She likens training to nursing in more ways than one. “You come into your shift every day knowing your goals. Training for a competition is very similar.” As with each day on the floor, every workout requires an ability to constantly adjust expectations and goals according to reality, something the nurse–and mom!– learned long ago.  Similarly, she says, “While there are days on duty that don’t go how you want, there are workouts and races like that, too. The best you can do is tough it out and know that the next day will be better.”

Sanity-Saving Strategies:

    • Always have a goal in mind.
    • Start small.
    • Plan ahead by making a schedule.
    • When the schedule doesn’t work, figure something else out.
    • Get at least 7 hours of sleep.
    • Always keep go-to food in the freezer.
    • Take a moment to laugh each day with family and friends.
    • Find ways to multitask.
    • Ask for help.

Barbara Warner is dedicated to doing good for others.

Barbara Warner wishes her vacuuming got done more often. But the director of community health services for the Community Prevention Partnership of Berks County, Pennsylvania,has learned to let some things go so she can remain focused on what really matters. “I tell myself that when I’m gone, what will have really made a difference is the turkey dinner I delivered to a family on Thanksgiving and the hour I spent on Christmas in the ER with the victim of domestic violence.”

Warner devotes herself full-time to guiding and supporting home health nurses tending to low-income families for National Family Partnership. Between home visits, she supervises an Early Head Start program, orchestrates several clothing and toy drives each year, serves on numerous agency boards, volunteers to cook an occasional meal at the local homeless shelter, is active in her church and enlists her husband’s help picking up furniture donations on the weekends. “My parents always made family and service to others a priority,” explains Warner. As a neonatal nurse, she witnessed high-risk infants repeatedly released to high-risk social situations and decided to seek an MSN plus additional training so she could not only educate parents, but also be an advocate for them. “My mom has been such a good role model in helping me know what’s really important,” says Warner,who remarkably also relaxes in the company of family—five generations live locally—several times a week. “It’s hard to keep a balance, and there are definitely days when I feel like I’m going crazy,” says Warner. “When I go home and I have food in the fridge and heat in my house and a husband who loves me, I say to myself, ‘Oh, quit your whining.’”

Sanity-Saving Strategies:

    • Find what you love and do it.
    • Expand your skills.
    • Prioritize what you do for others.
    • Always make some time for yourself.
    • Cook and bake in large batches—there’s always someone who can use a homemade meal.
    • Be grateful.

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Renee Schettler

Renee Schettler is a writer and editor who has worked at The Washington Post, Martha Stewart Living and Real Simple.
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