Moments of Pride: Robyn Bartholomew (B.S.‘10/N)
We’re thrilled to share another VCU School of Nursing alumna’s experience working as a nurse in our Moments of Pride series. Meet Robyn Bartholomew (B.S.‘10/N), RN, who works as a perioperative nurse on the orthopedic surgery team at VCU Health.
Q. What do you enjoy most about being a nurse?
A. Besides being the trustworthy ultimate patient advocate, the things I love about being a nurse are the amazing career growth opportunities. Before working in the OR I did one year of med-surg nursing and seven years of ED nursing. I’ve been in the OR almost 10 years now. I love sharing my experience with nursing students that come and observe in the OR because there so many great things about being a nurse. If you want to try something else, go for it! In the OR the red line is not as intimidating as it seems as long as someone is there to help you over it. It is just a different skill set.
My team is Orthopedics, but I rotate to most other services as needed. I primarily scrub and circulate total joint replacements, ortho trauma surgery, sports, spine, foot and hand surgery. I love orthopedics! One of my favorite moments during the OR internship training program was when I got to hold a patient’s (purposely) non-beating heart so the cardiothoracic surgeon could anastomose the vessels during cardiac bypass surgery. The patient’s chest was packed in ice and my gloved hands felt frozen, but I dared not move. I had the privilege of watching (and hearing) a patient’s heart restart after coming off the bypass machine. I’m very fortunate to have a job that is challenging where I get to see new and exciting things every day.
Q. How has your VCU School of Nursing education prepared you for your work as a nurse, particularly in situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic?
A. After working in the VCU’s ED, I completed the VCU RN to B.S. program in 2010 and then reinvented myself as an OR (Perioperative nurse.) The SON prepared me to be a more knowledgeable and competent team member, and it gave me the confidence to return to work after taking off a few years to raise my three children. The teachers were helpful and kind. The classes focused on working in teams, conflict resolution, and high reliability organizations. Through reading research, I learned to challenge the current status quo, and to question why we do things “the way we always do.” Safe and current patient care was taught to be the ultimate goal. Maybe I was too young or naive, but I don’t remember this content being taught during my associates degree preparation back in 1997.
As far as this current COVID crisis, there is no place where I would rather work than at VCU. Our leaders have advocated for us, advocated for our rising COVID patient population by making space in our OR for ICU patients and retraining nurses and surgical techs to assist in other units. Our valuable care partners have been “COVID door monitors,” assisting all staff members that go in and out of positive and presumptive positive patient rooms/ORs with safe donning and doffing of PPE as to not contaminate themselves or other staff members.
Q. Can you share any words of encouragement or advice to current and future nurses?
A. I am grateful for all the opportunities this career has given me. I work alongside brilliant people and have great friends. There is job security in this challenging time. This is not to say that nursing school, and being a nurse is always easy. It’s not. It is hard. It can be scary. The hours may be flexible for a family, but there are days I have cried going home from work. Remember to take time to regroup, rest and remind yourself how far you have come. I promise it’s all worth it.