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- Bee Potter '14 - RN to BS in Nursing
Bee Potter '14 - RN to BS in Nursing
Employed as a nurse at Faulkner Hospital in Boston's Jamaica Plain neighborhood, Bee had actually switched shifts with a coworker, so she could be in the Emergency Room during what is always a busy day.
"I tend to work most of those holidays because I like the disaster management end of emergency nursing," Potter says. "What's ironic is we were prepared all day, our disaster management coordinator was on site. What we were preparing for was the inevitable onslaught of twisted ankles, heatstroke, the dehydration, because [the hospital has] a protocol for that."
Tragically, those were not the patients that Potter and the Faulkner staff treated on Monday, April 15.
Potter and her coworkers were quickly forced to shift gears after two bombs exploded at the Boston Marathon finish line. Even then, the staff was surprised when bombing victims were sent to their Emergency Room.
"Faulkner is not a trauma center. Initially, I remember when the call went over our disaster radio; I think we were preparing for other ambulances. We thought that Boston EMS would send us all the other traffic; all the belly pains, the chest pains, so that the traumas could go to the trauma centers," Potter recalls. "We actually had over 20 [bombing] victims, several went to the OR [operating room] immediately. We had FBI on site, which felt a little surreal."
The scene may have been surreal and nerve racking, but Potter says it was not chaotic.
"When you hear that you're going to get this onslaught of people you think there will be hysteria, but [the patients]were actually much calmer than I expected."
One patient in particular grabbed Potter's attention - a woman she dubbed a "reluctant hero."
"When she came in she didn't want to give her name, because she was the first to arrive and she didn't know, 'will they [the bombers] track me, will they get me?' Her injuries were minor enough that she was able to go home afterwards. I remember [an] FBI agent said to me, 'She gave the most accurate, best interview, we got some great information from her.'"
As you would expect, Potter wouldn't call herself, or other staffers in the Faulkner Emergency Room, heroes for what they did on Marathon Monday. But, they were honored days after the bombing, along with hundreds of other first responders, by receiving invitations to an interfaith service featuring President Obama. Potter called it a humbling and inspiring experience.
For Potter, the Marathon bombings also reinforced her decision to return to school.
"I put a lot of it [Faulkner's success] on our disaster planning routine, and the people that plan that and manage the emergency response are well educated people," Potter says. "I want to be a planner, I don't just want to be a doer."
And, that is precisely why Potter decided to enroll in the Curry College RN to BS in Nursing Program. After working for 17 years as a Registered Nurse in hospitals across the country (including the last three at Faulkner Hospital), she decided to pursue her Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing.
"I had been a clinical nurse all those years, at the stretcher, but to advance in nursing now you need some type of advanced degree, without it you can't teach, or manage, or move on it all. I was actually encouraged by Faulkner, and they gave me an opportunity where I got a free class, and it started with [that] one free class."
That first class was an ethics class taught by Professor Bette Manter.
"She was wonderful," Potter says about Professor Manter. "She was a nurse in a previous time in her life and she was very encouraging, helped me set some goals. She gave me her cell phone number, she met me before class. When I started my next class, she emailed me asking how it was going."
As Potter works to complete her degree, she has already noticed that her Curry education is affecting her work on a day to day basis.
"I've always been a clinically focused nurse, and I'm also an active member of the Emergency Nurse's Association. I'm our chapter president this year. Since I've started at Curry, I've written for the Faulkner Hospital magazine, and I don't think I would have gotten into writing unless I had been led into it."
Potter says that nursing has always been an outlet for adventure for her. And, there are no signs that adventure will end any time soon. For Potter, the Marathon tragedy only solidified the passion she has for nursing.
"We didn't have any fatalities at Faulkner, so I'm not affected in that way. This City of Boston knows that we will take care of them. And I wouldn't be afraid to go in again. If there is a disaster, I would go," Potter says.
"You always wonder if you'll belly up, if you'll crack when you're afraid, and I think being a nurse is a decision that you won't be afraid. I like being a nurse."
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