PreCheck Celebrates National Nurses Week 2017 with Chris Draper
The American Nurses Association (ANA) has established National Nurses Week as an annual event held May 6-12 to recognize the important role nurses play every day in delivering the highest level of patient care. This year’s theme, “Nursing: the Balance of Mind, Body, and Spirit,” is set to honor all nurses who lead the charge toward health and wellness.
In celebration of this event, PreCheck joins the ANA by sharing the story of Chris Draper, BSN, RN, CCRN, a registered nurse at Houston Methodist Hospital. Draper was recently recognized as one of the top 150 Houston nurses in this year’s Houston Chronicle Salute to Nurses. He was selected out of 1,400 nurses nominated and ranked among the top 150 best nurses in the Houston area. We hope his story inspires others to create their own journey toward nursing and make a difference in patients’ lives.
I recently had the opportunity to chat with Draper about his latest achievements, thoughts about the current state of the nursing profession, where it's headed, and much more. Here’s what he had to say:
1. What does being recognized by the Houston Chronicle Salute to Nurses mean to you?
After taking a look at what the potential applicant pool could be, I can still barely believe it. I’m fortunate to work in the world’s largest medical center with one of the highest concentration of nurses anywhere and someone thought that I belong among the best of them. Doctors, nurses and patients around the world flock to Houston for the renowned healthcare offered here and it is truly an honor to be part of some of the best teams.
2. What do you love most about being a nurse?
I love that nursing is one of those unique professions that require you to be both left- and right-brained. You must know the science behind the human body, proper medications, and how things work while treating your patient. You must also be attentive to the patient, which requires psychology, communication, and a little creativity. It’s this necessary combination that makes nursing both challenging and fascinating at the same time.
3. Why did you choose to pursue a career in nursing?
Honestly, it was a random thought that came to me one day—you may even consider it my calling. After graduating from Texas Christian University (TCU) with two degrees, I began my first career in non-profits as an Executive Director of a fine arts academy in San Antonio. While it was a great job, I didn’t really have a passion for what I was doing. Then one day, I was like, “Let’s be a nurse.” I moved back to Houston and began taking the prerequisite classes I’d need to get into nursing school. Then soon after, I discovered that I had an aptitude for health sciences in Anatomy & Physiology and Medical Microbiology.
However, my “aha” moment didn’t come until the day I had my first clinical rotation. On the first day, I spent some time with a patient who was screaming and was obviously in a lot of pain. I learned that she wasn’t able to communicate her condition with anyone because she had apparently been overlooked for a few days. After I told my clinical instructor about what I had discovered, I realized that this was what I was supposed to be doing all along. I haven’t regretted it since.
4. What five qualities or words would you use to describe an ideal nurse?
- Compassionate: We somehow have this innate compulsion to love people at their worst.
- Intelligent: The ability to assess multiple things at once and determine the intervention needed while being supportive to a stranger isn’t for those who don’t like to think.
- Strong: We are often abused, on our feet for long periods of time, and even neglect our own personal needs. This takes a certain amount of strength.
- Fun: We tend to see some insane things and go through disturbing experiences, so when an opportunity to celebrate life presents itself, we’re all in.
- Strange: Dinner conversations about poop, staring at a stranger’s amazingly vascular arms, and finally feeling a state of peace because all of your IVs are organized and appropriately labeled are pretty strange.
5. How has the nursing profession changed over the past years?
While I’ve only been a nurse for about 3.5 years now, I’ve noticed that there’s an even larger emphasis on patient satisfaction and HCAHPS scores since it became a metric of success due to the new reimbursement requirements. While having happy patients is certainly a priority, adopting hotel-like customer service models has been a little stressful. Hospitals are now doing more to make sure they get higher scores by accommodating requests from patients and families alike. This can be especially challenging for someone who works in the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit because when these expectations aren’t fully met, it can make it more difficult to do our job—to save the patient’s life.
6. How has the nursing profession changed you as a person?
Nursing has hands down made me a more compassionate person. My family often jokes about me being a carbon copy of my father: who is analytical, hyper-logical and blunt. However, in becoming a nurse, I’d argue that more of my mother’s qualities have emerged: who is creative, compassionate, caring and supportive.
Overall, I feel that the combination of the two has allowed me to become more balanced, helped me tap into my true potential, and be happier and become who I was meant to be. Perhaps Mahatma Gandhi was right when he said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
7. What do you believe is the largest misconception about nursing?
I believe the largest misconception about nursing is that we simply follow orders and are, more or less, an assistant to the doctor. While, yes, we cannot technically practice medicine without an advanced practice nursing degree, we’re constantly assessing and performing interventions. We frequently make suggestions to doctors about treatment plans and almost as frequently stop orders from being carried out that could prove to be dangerous for our patients. We critically think and advocate for on behalf of our patients. We are more than “just a nurse.” I don’t think most people know what we do because of how we’re represented in the media. All I can say, though, is that I’ve never seen a doctor ambulate a patient and I’ve never followed an order “because he said so.” Collaborating with physicians on patient care is what makes them better, not our obedience and silence.
8. Where do you see the nursing industry heading in the next 10 years?
More than ever, I see an increasing demand for nurses due to the influx of Baby Boomers retiring. The increase in our scope of practice, while understandably not supported by the American Medical Association, might be the only option in order to address the provider shortage. Thus, I think there’s going to be a push for more Nurse Practitioners and Nurse Anesthetists to get their DNP (Doctorate of Nursing Practice) to increase the amount of education in order to meet this expanded role as well.
9. What is it like being a nurse at Houston Methodist?
I love working at Houston Methodist. There is such a strong culture of excellence and nursing involvement here. Though working in the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit can be stressful, it is rewarding to know that I’m working with some of the most diverse, brilliant and outgoing co-workers one could ever hope to be associated with; its makes a world of difference.
10. What advice would you give to nursing graduates beginning their career?
Find your voice. Assuming that nursing has become your passion, I couldn’t emphasize the importance of being able to speak up on behalf of your patients for their benefit and protection. You’re not there to follow orders or simply pass out medication; rather, you’re there to improve your patient’s overall health. So I’d say speak up and always do what’s right for the patient.
11. What would you say to those who are considering nursing as their career?
It is the best unplanned decision I’ve ever made in my life. I think it’s something you either are or are not meant to do with almost no gray area in between, so you’ll know quickly if it’s meant for you. Days are often long and rarely easy, but it’s instantaneously worth it when your patients come to you to say, “Thank you.”
Whether you’re a nursing veteran or simply new to the field, please share your story. We'd love to hear from you!