Meagan Kirchner Registered Nursing Graduate: Caring for Every Patient— Before and During COVID-19
Meagan Kirchner knew she wanted to pursue a career in nursing after taking a sports medicine class in high school. Sports medicine interested her as she was an athlete herself, and the class was a good introduction to anatomy and physiology.
“I began working closely with the athletic trainer at my high school and even became the sports medicine club president,” Meagan recalls. “My senior year I took anatomy and physiology and fell even more in love with the science behind the body, injury, and the healing process. I started looking into careers that would allow me to divulge in my interest in medicine, and nursing was the first option that piqued my interest. I thought it would be a perfect job for me because I would get to be involved in healthcare and help people at the same time.”
Meagan was in the first graduating class (as a Registered Nurse) from the Carrington College campus in Mesa, AZ in December of 2019. “I believe that my experience at Carrington College definitely prepared me for my career in ways I didn’t even realize at the time,” she says. “Every lab simulation and clinical gave me more insight into how to be successful as a new graduate going into the nursing field.”
Meagan currently works at Rapides Regional Medical Center in Alexandria, Louisiana on a Cardiac Telemetry floor; she has worked there since the March 2020. “This means that I work with a preceptor (an experienced staff nurse and mentor),” she says, “and then I gradually take on more patients and responsibilities until I feel able to take on a full patient load by myself.”
Meagan cares for patients who have just had or are about to get a heart catheterization (“cath”), preparing them for pre-op and seeing that everything runs smoothly. “When the patient returns from the procedure, they usually have a sheath placed in their femoral vein where the doctor performed the heart catheterization. I monitor them closely for any signs of a bleed at the procedure sight for a couple of hours, then pull the sheath out and hold pressure at the sight. This type of patient is the most common on the floor, but we also typically get patients with congestive heart failure, heart disease, and irregular heart rhythms.”
A typical day workday for Meagan begins by reviewing reports from the nurse on the shift prior to her and organizing her day from there. She administers medicines, monitors heart rhythms, talks with doctors, arranges procedures, and does charting.
Her work—and her workload—have changed with the pandemic. “Since the COVID-19 health crisis, I have also had to take on the responsibility of taking care of dialysis patients as well,” she says. “The floor above mine is the hospital-wide COVID-19 floor; we send all patients who are in the process of being tested—or who have received a positive test result—to that floor. That floor is usually a dialysis unit,” she explains, “which is why our floor now has a large amount of dialysis patients as well.”
Despite the challenges, Meagan enjoys her work and finds it rewarding. “I love being a new graduate nurse and actually putting all of my nursing skills to use these past few months,” she says. “Although it has been an exciting time in my life, it has also been a very uncertain time in the world, and in the world of healthcare specifically. The shortness of personal protection equipment (PPE) has been felt throughout hospitals around the world and adjusting to the new standards of PPE has been… an experience.”
In addition to the skills and work she shares with others, Meagan is inspired by the dedication of the people she works with; it makes her career that much more rewarding.
“One thing I can say for sure is that all the nurses that I have come in contact with these past few months have been some of the most selfless people I’ve ever met, putting their own lives and safety on the line in order to make sure those in need get the help they deserve,” Meagan says. “I wholeheartedly can say that I chose the right career if those are the people I get to surround myself with every day.”