|Q&A with Gamma Knife Coordinator Evelyn Badran|
|Evelyn Badran, RN, CNRN, received her RN degree from the Truman School of Nursing. She is a certified neuroscience RN. Badran is currently a Gamma Knife Coordinator at The Neurologic and Orthopedic Hospital of Chicago. To learn more about the hospital, visit http://neuro-ortho.org/home.
Q: Why did you decide to become a nurse?
A: I always liked helping people. If I could make a patient smile in a difficult situation I knew they would relax and trust me a little more so we could develop a relationship that could promote healing for the patient.
Q: What is a typical day for you at The Neurologic and Orthopedic Hospital of Chicago?
A: I am the Gamma Knife Coordinator. I oversee management, scheduling, coordination between departments related to Gamma Knife and do patient care as well. Gamma Knife is radiation treatment specific to the brain. We treat brain tumors, neuralgias of the cranial nerves, arterial/venous malformations and metastatic tumors.
A typical day for me starts at 6 am when the patients get admitted. Six to about 11 am is pretty busy preparing the patient, assisting with the frame placement, taking head measurements, accompanying the patient during the MRI. After 10 or 11 am is planning time. During this time, while we are waiting, I do some of the coordinating: calling patients with instructions for next day, calling doctors' offices to get results of pre-testing, preparing patient charts, giving patient education to potential Gamma patients in the clinic. When the patient treatment starts, we observe and monitor them until the treatment is completed, then recover them for an hour or two until they go home.
Q: What are the greatest challenges you face in your job?
A: Patient diagnoses are always hard. You become involved with your patient and their families trying to reassure them and give them hope while you also worry about them.
Q: What do you like most about your job? What do you dislike most?
A: I like the interaction with my patients, they invite me as a part of their family and allow me into their lives, they share family stories even their favorite recipes. The part I dislike is that you get to see some of your patients come back again for treatment.
Q: What would you like to share with your colleagues about the rewards of your particular job?
A: Gamma Knife is not well known and it should be. It is minimally invasive and is very effective on many anomalies of the brain. As a nurse, there is no greater reward than hearing my patients say, "It was not as bad as I imagined," with big smiles on their faces.
Knowing that I helped ease a patient's fears before and during treatment, sending them home at the end of the day with a smile on their face and [receiving] a thank you hug [is rewarding]. Many times, on the day of their follow up visit they come to see us before they see their doctor to let us know they are doing well and to say hello. I love that.
The other rewarding part of my job is that I work with an amazing team of colleagues. We are like the fingers on a hand working together to make the day go smoothly.
Q: Are you currently involved with any research projects?
A: I am presently the healthcare coordinator of a project that involves following up on newly diagnosed brain tumor patients that have had a craniotomy. The questions that are asked are mostly to evaluate their emotional status post surgery and to address any concerns or questions they may have. There is an uncertainty about the future when brain tumors are diagnosed and patients are very scared. By spending time with them on the phone while they are at home, they are allowed to express their concerns or fears. I then communicate these concerns or issues to their doctors for management.
Q: What do you feel is of the greatest concern to nurses today?
A: First, the nursing shortage. There is still a high demand for nurses that is not being met. Nurses already working are expected or asked to work longer hours daily with an increased number of patients. The concern is for patient safety as well as retention of nurses.
Second, healthcare. With our healthcare system now, patients being admitted to hospitals are sicker than before. Many of these patients have lost their jobs or income and some their health insurances. Many of them are discontinuing or decreasing their medication and are admitted emergently with increased blood sugars or elevated blood pressures that are harder to manage.
Q: What is the most important thing you've learned over the course of your career?
A: Patience. We all are so very different and yet have the same fears. I learned that it takes several minutes of conversation to know a patient and what will be the best way to approach them. They feel more relaxed and trust the care we will provide for them.
Q: What advice do you have for others thinking of entering your specialty?
A: Neuroscience is a fascinating field. My advice for new nurses is to get a solid base in med-surg first. This will strengthen your nursing knowledge in any field. To experienced nurses, I will say don't be afraid. It sounds scary but you will do it and love it in the end.
Q: How has working in this specialty allowed you to grow professionally?
A: I have seen amazing technology in action. I am able to see MRI films with confidence. I have learned about radiation and its benefits. I feel more confident in my career and know I have a lot to offer as a nurse, but I also know that I will never stop learning. It is an ongoing lesson with all the new advances in the medical field.
Q: Are there other areas of interest for you as a nurse, either clinically or educationally, that you plan to pursue?
A: At this moment I am very happy with what I do. I get to educate and develop a relationship with my patients from the moment they are recommended gamma knife treatment to the moment they go home. I have a wonderful background working as a nurse in different specialties that I have liked very much. One can never tell.