America's Nurses: Meet Transplant Nurse Lindsay J.

NursingFebruary 09, 2014

Lindsay J. is a woman of many talents and interests. Though she works as a transplant nurse in one of the highest acuity units in the nation, she is also an accomplished musician and instructional specialist for the highly decorated marching band at the university in her city. She is also a newlywed and enjoys spending her time making improvements on the home that she shares with her husband.

Lindsay's journey to nursing began in Kindergarten, when she knew she wanted to become a doctor. This desire shaped her educational choices through high school and into college, but when she got there, something just didn't feel right. She attended a health professions class taught by a nurse, and it changed her life. "I was under the impression that I would be settling if I were to give up the doctor path and become a nurse. She showed me how wrong I was," states Lindsay.

"Now that I'm in the profession, I find that I am no doctor. I am a proud nurse, happy with the knowledge, education and experience I have. With my career, I have so many options. I have flexibility, and I have a life. It has taken me to places and experiences that I so appreciate."

Before she graduated with her BSN, Lindsay earned an externship in cardiothoracic nursing. During this externship, the hospital knew they had a talented nurse on their hands, and they hired Lindsay for an ICU position to begin right after graduation. She passed the NCLEX, and after a few months of orientation, she was a full-fledged nurse.

Lindsay's job as a transplant nurse means she takes care of patients who are post-op from their heart or lung transplant. The program she works for is one of the few in the country that will take a patient in total heart failure and transition them to an artificial heart, until they are selected to receive a heart from the transplant list. These patients are extremely fragile and are vulnerable to many adverse health events. This requires a lot of nurses who must constantly monitor vital signs, assess for symptoms of bleeding or clotting and watch for signs of infection that can lead to sepsis.

Technology is the future of nursing, and Lindsay is a true believer in that fact. These advances range from the use of electronic medical records to devices designed to keep patients alive, like intra-aortic balloon pumps (IABP) and ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation).

The part that Lindsay enjoys most about nursing is the special people she cares for. "I've been next to a man on comfort care as he died with his family around his bed, and they thanked me as they left. I've fed a total artificial heart patient, with a week to live, a Thanksgiving potluck dinner and took him outside to see the sun. He was only 30. Last summer, I cried with a newlywed wife as she realized her husband was never getting better. What a strange job I have. I take care of, keep alive, and clean up strangers I would have never met otherwise, and I will never forget them."

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons