Daisy Award Nominee Credits Travel Nursing for Her Adaptability
By Joseph Duffy, contributor
Emily Schwirian, RN, worked for just three years in a hospital as a full-time registered nurse before venturing out as a travel nurse. And it took her only one assignment to be nominated for the prestigious Daisy Award, which recognizes clinicians for the extraordinary and compassionate care they provide patients and families.
"I was very excited," said Emily, who travels with Onward Healthcare. "I was caught off guard, too. I was not expecting it at all. And it was inspiring for me. I had a great relationship with a patient's mother who nominated me, and I loved that family. It meant so much to me to get recognized by a family I had the pleasure of helping."
Emily worked in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) at Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital in New York City. Her infant patient had pulmonary hypertension and had to be intubated numerous times. It was a very challenging time for the family, but the baby got better and finally left the hospital.
"I advocated for this family a lot, and they noticed that and appreciated it," said Emily. "That patient had spent almost her whole life in the hospital, so the parents were very well versed on what was going on and what specific things their child needed. I worked hard at listening to their concerns instead of just immediately doing something just because it was protocol. I also voiced their concerns to the doctors as well."
Morgan Stanley also recognized Emily for "coming to work with an amazing attitude, unparalleled work ethic, and a desire to create a better life for her patients, their families, and her coworkers."
Travel nursing during COVID-19
Being nominated for a major award during her first travel nursing assignment wasn’t the only thing that would make it memorable. Emily also had to deal with working in a COVID-19 hotspot.
She arrived in New York City in September 2019, which would become one of the hardest hit regions of the country during her time at Morgan Stanley.
"We didn't see as many children getting infected," she said. "But New York City as a whole took such a bad hit that my hospital absorbed all pediatric patients from pretty much the entire island of Manhattan so that they could turn those other pediatric units into adult COVID centers.”
“That was at the beginning,” she noted. “Then as time went on and things progressed badly, we started to take adult COVID ICU patients in my PICU."
Emily felt fortunate that her assignment started before the pandemic, so she saw many city sites before New York locked down. But when COVID hit, work became more stressful, and she found being quarantined made it harder to unwind.
"I lived with two other travel nurses who were also doing the same thing as I, and that was helpful," she said. "The three of us formed an excellent support system for one another."
And as work began to calm down a bit and the city slowly reopened, Emily realized how peaceful and exciting a quiet New York City could be without the crowds.
Becoming more adaptable
It took only one assignment for Emily to learn that travel nursing makes you a better nurse.
"Learning a different way of doing something and working with so many different types of personalities help you become a very adaptable nurse," she said. "I did things at this hospital that I didn't do at my full-time hospital and vice versa. You see such an array of different things. You get compensated well, too."
Emily is looking forward to her next assignment and says she is flexible in picking where she wants to go.
"I have places that I would like to go to, but I'm open to working in a lot of places," she said. "What I like about travel nursing is how you don't know what's next. I like that feeling. It's like the world is your oyster. You have a lot of opportunities."
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