November 06, 2013 - Being a nurse can often be a thankless job that's both physically and emotionally demanding.
Oxford RN Laura Holt and her DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses. Photo by CJC. (click for larger version)
But Laura (Beamer) Holt, a Registered Nurse at St. Joseph Mercy Oakland in Pontiac, now has a visible reminder that all her tireless efforts and long hours are very much appreciated.
The 29-year-old Oxford resident recently received the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses. The award is designed to honor the "superhuman work" nurses do for patients and families every day.
"I was really shocked," said Holt, who's a 2002 graduate of Lake Orion High School. "I would never have expected it. It totally took me by surprise."
"It was a huge honor," she continued. "It's one of the most prestigious awards (in nursing), (with standards) that we all strive to live up to."
Holt was nominated for the award by an elderly female patient and her daughter. The patient was in a considerable amount of back pain stemming from a fall. Holt helped get the patient's pain under control and arrange for home care and rehabilitation services.
"The daughter was really appreciative because she works full time and it was kind of a tough situation," Holt said.
Holt graduated from nursing school at Oakland University in 2009.
"It sounds pretty cliche, but I always wanted to help people," Holt said. "It's the most rewarding job when you're able to hold somebody's hand through a tough situation and help them heal."
Holt thoroughly enjoys every aspect of her job, from helping a patient to better understand their disease to helping a family cope with a difficult time.
"We all strive to be the best for our patients and make their uncomfortable situation as comfortable as possible," she said.
She currently works in the Clinical Decision Unit at St. Joseph.
"It's a 23-hour observation unit off the ER," Holt explained. "Basically, the patients are sent to us for testing and we make the decision (as to) whether they need to be admitted to the hospital or discharged."
Holt said the unit treats a "smorgasbord" of patients.
"We take care of a lot cardiac patients, chronic pain patients, acute things like appendicitis and gallbladder attacks," she said.
Modern nursing is much more than the traditional image many people still have of a woman dressed all in white, changing bandages and bringing water to patients.
"Nursing has evolved so much over the years," Holt said. "It's gotten to the point where we work hand-in-hand with the doctors. I always have doctors say to me, 'I don't know what we would do without you guys.'"
Nurses play a vital role when it comes to patient care.
"We're with the patients the most," she said. "Nurses are really the biggest advocates for the patients in the hospital. We're able to voice their concerns. If we see a patient declining, we're the one to take the next step, to call a rapid response (team) or notify the doctor that something needs to be done."
Holt is continuing her education by pursuing her Master of Science in Nursing at OU. Once she obtains her degree in August 2014, she'll be a family nurse practitioner.
Nurse practitioners are qualified to diagnose medical problems, order tests and treatments, prescribe medications and make referrals. They can serve as a patient's primary health care provider just like a doctor.
Taking patient care one step further was Holt's primary motivation to become a nurse practitioner. Not only does the position offer her more autonomy and more responsibility, it will allow her to spend more time with patients, get to know them better and be there for them throughout the entire healing process, from diagnosis to disease management or cure.
"Just helping people understand how to care for themselves is a huge reward to me," Holt said. "A lot of people have chronic illnesses and they really don't understand how to care for themselves. That's why they keep coming back to the hospital."
Holt's life is quite the juggling act these days as she works 36 hours a week at the hospital and spends 22 hours a week pursuing her master's degree.
Right now, 20 of those schooling hours are spent doing her clinical rotation at the Glennan Medical Group PC (Dr. Sheryl Wissman) in downtown Oxford.
"They're such a great group to learn from," she said. "It's been a wonderful experience."
In between all that, she finds time to be there for her family, which includes husband Bryan Holt, a 2002 Oxford High School graduate, and children, a 12-month old daughter named Molly and son Miles, 4.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.