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Authors

  1. Seislove, Elizabeth B. MSN, RN, CCRN

Article Content

I am so proud to be a nurse and so honored to have the opportunity to serve as your President of the Society of Trauma Nurses. It has been a ride. The best way to introduce myself to you is to provide a little history of why I became a nurse and then how I got to be where I am today.

  
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I was born in a small town of Macungie, Pennsylvania. I was the middle child, sandwiched between 2 brothers. You may already make judgment of the middle child and the only girl but I think that is where I grew strength and wisdom. My father was a family practitioner and I have fond memories of his office practice being in the house and patients would often wait in our living room to be seen by my father or they would sit in the kitchen and have tea with my mother. I remember every Christmas receiving the fruitcakes and nut breads as an appreciation for my father's work and his contributions to the community. You know, at that time in my life I did not want to do anything in health care, I wanted to pursue either architecture or interior design. My mother was a home economics teacher so after my elder brother was born, she stayed home and made sure we had 3 square meals a day, plus dessert. Her skills at cooking and sewing are still prominent today.

 

It was not until the summer of my junior year in high school and my elder brother's senior year, when he was involved in a motor vehicle crash. He was actually brought to the trauma center that I currently work at today, Lehigh Valley Health Network. He had facial fractures, rib fractures, and multiple lacerations and contusions. He spent several days in the hospital and at that time I was in awe of the care that was given to him by the nursing staff. That was the deciding moment for me; I said to my family at that time, "I want to go into nursing."

 

I wanted to care for people, I wanted to heal them, and I wanted to be the one that they look up to from their hospital beds and say thank you for what you do. I attended Widener University in Chester, Pennsylvania, and received my BSN in 1986. I started out as an oncology nurse and then moved into neuro-critical care. Those experiences were the first 3 years of my career and until I started at Lehigh Valley Health Network in September 1989. My career has spanned from bedside nurse in the trauma intensive care unit (ICU), followed by the nurse educator for the trauma ICU, followed by the pediatric trauma coordinator, trauma program manager, and now director of the trauma program.

 

My presidential address this year was focused on collaboration. Collaboration is "a recursive process where two or more people or organizations work together in an intersection of common goals." And as I reflect on my career, if I did not experience collaboration with mentors as well as teachers I would not be where I am today. My parents provided me with a home environment of support and encouragement to pursue my dreams and when I would take another road, they would be there to help guide me back on the right path. They still support me in my efforts as a mother, wife, and as a trauma nurse. We worked together as a family that provided me with the comfort needed to keep trying and doing my best.

 

My first official nursing position was on an oncology floor. Do you remember that first day on the floor, the adrenaline and excitement of finally starting as a nurse, but do you remember the pit in your stomach of "where do I even start? I know starting I had a lot of questions and I always wanted to know and do more so the guidance and collaboration from the senior staff was imperative." Without the support of that team, I am not sure I would have gotten through my first year. Then I took the leap into critical care and my team of fellow neuro-ICU nurses stuck together, especially on those nights when their was only a few of us and we were getting 4 admissions all at the same time. We laughed together and we cried together, we were a great team. Then coming back to Lehigh Valley Health Network to work in the shock trauma unit, I have had the opportunity and support to grow within the trauma department. I work side by side with my trauma medical director and I have the best team of coordinators, registrars, nurses, physicians, midlevel providers, and ancillary personnel working with me to ensure that we deliver the best care possible to all injured patients who come to our trauma center.

 

Following the vein of collaboration, as STN moves forward into 2011, our collaboration efforts will continue to grow and prosper. I will refer you to the News and Notes page where our collaboration efforts are highlighted and some of the other exciting initiatives that we are working on as a Society will be reviewed. I encourage all of you to visit the Society of Trauma Nurses Web site, traumanurses.org, to learn more about the activities that you as a society are engaged with. I challenge all of you to look at your daily practice as a trauma nurse and start collaborative efforts among yourselves and with your peers within your own institutions and then jump out of the box and collaborate and get more involved in the STN, by joining a special interest group or writing an article for the journal, reading a Continuing Education Units article, or using the Web site for list serve interactions.

 

We have an exciting future ahead of us, and the door is wide open for opportunity, as I quote Sir Isaac Newton, "If I see further, it will be because I stand on the shoulders of a giant." I encourage all of you to stand tall and become actively involved with the continuum of care for the trauma patient and together we will deliver the optimal care to all injured patients.