Burn survivor now burn nurse?

  1. Ok, I need advice. I burned approx 80% of my body, mostly 3rd degree, full thickness, when I was a child. So I very much grew up in hospitals with grafting, etc. You guys know the drill!

    Recently I accepted an ICU position that will be including fresh burn patients. I desperately want to do something positive for these people, but at the same time, I'm also wondering if it could possibly hit a nerve and freak me out. Does anyone have any opinions on this? I really want to feel like I am helping someone, somehow.
    •  
  2. 9 Comments

  3. by   jaimealmostRN
    Before you accept the postion are you able to "shadow" one of the staff nurses for a day on this unit? Ask the manager to be placed with one burn patient. Theres no need to mention your history (unless you want to). Say that you want to make sure you are comfortable with burn patients. A lot of very tough nurses have difficulty with burn patients so your manager/charge will not think this is strange. Good luck!
  4. by   gwenith
    Totally agree with Jaime's suggestion. You won't know until you try and shadowing someone is the best way to try. LUCK!!!!
  5. by   saskrn
    Unfortunately I can't shadow, as the position is 400 miles away, in a different country. But it's a great suggestion!
  6. by   missmercy
    My dad suffered extreme burns over 50% of his body -- I was with him for hours on end at the hospital and when he come home -- still requiring care: dressing changes etc.... I don't know if I could do a burnu unit now -- but then again, the thrill of turning a bad experience into a rewarding, positive thing is a huge motivator! I have major migraines and have to admit that thaey have made me a better nurse for my migraine patients -- cause I know what it's like to be where they are.... It's all about what's right for you!! If you find you can't do it without being too emotionally touched - try something different. If you can, then by all means DO IT!! You have a unique ability to minister to the needs of those patients in a way that few others will ever have! God gives us grace to endure trials and difficulties and if He wants to use you in that field, He'll give you all you need to do it!! I'm proud of you for wanting to turn the oprdealinto a toOL to help others! You sound like an incredible person!!
  7. by   saskrn
    Quote from missmercy
    My dad suffered extreme burns over 50% of his body -- I was with him for hours on end at the hospital and when he come home -- still requiring care: dressing changes etc.... I don't know if I could do a burnu unit now -- but then again, the thrill of turning a bad experience into a rewarding, positive thing is a huge motivator! I have major migraines and have to admit that thaey have made me a better nurse for my migraine patients -- cause I know what it's like to be where they are.... It's all about what's right for you!! If you find you can't do it without being too emotionally touched - try something different. If you can, then by all means DO IT!! You have a unique ability to minister to the needs of those patients in a way that few others will ever have! God gives us grace to endure trials and difficulties and if He wants to use you in that field, He'll give you all you need to do it!! I'm proud of you for wanting to turn the oprdealinto a toOL to help others! You sound like an incredible person!!
    Well, I sure don't think I'm incredible but thanks for the rationalization. It put things in perspective for me!
  8. by   Kyriaka
    I am a nursing student. Burned 60%. I am going to specialize in burns.

    In fact, the only nurses who took care of me in the burn center were former patients.
  9. by   talaxandra
    Like missmercy, I find my experiences with migraine help me not only understand but alos build a faster rapport with migraine patients.
    Of course you can't know what an individual patient's losses are - all experiences are unique - but you can be a living demonstration to your burns patients that there is a life after this kind of trauma, no matter how amazingly hard it is to see light at the other end of the tunnel.
    Is there any way you could shadow a nurse in a burns unit closer to home?
    Good luck
  10. by   begalli
    I know a nurse manager of a burn unit who herself suffered burns over a great percentage of her body when she was 7 years old. She lives with dramatic scaring of her face, neck, arms, hands, and legs among other non-visible places. She was a bedside burn nurse for many many years before being offered the management position. She said she knew that even as a child she wanted to become a nurse who worked with burn patients because of the nurses who took care of her.

    She's absolutely incredible and one of the reasons I became a nurse myself.

    I also have a good friend who is a Vietnam veteran who was a medic in the war and a victim of Naplam. He returned to the states in 1971 after his injury and was offered a medical education to become an MD by Nixon in 1972. He declined that offer and took a job at the same hospital that the nurse I spoke of above works. He has been working as a burn tech there ever since. You cannot see his scars, they are covered up by his scrubs, but the emotional scars will always be there. This is a man who befriends and cares deeply about his patients even as he administers what one would think to be cruel, cruel treatments. In fact, that's why he cares so deeply...he knows what those treatments are like.

    Because burn injuries are so psychologically devastating, I personally think that having someone who can relate so intimately to thier patient's, and for the patients to see that life can and does go on after these unimaginable types of injuries is a good thing. I would think that you would be in a very supportive enviornment, saskrn, if something did come up for you personally.

    I think it takes very special people to work a burn unit.

    Good luck to you.
    Last edit by begalli on Nov 17, '04
  11. by   Kyriaka
    I think it is also important for patients to see that not only does life go on (I am the only survivor of a house fire).

    But also, that the scarring may not be as bad as you might imagine.

    I am burned over most of my body, yet unless someone looks really really hard, they would not know it.

Must Read Topics


close