Per Diem Nurse Wins DAISY Award Caring for Cardiac Patients

Tia Schlangen RNTia Schlangen, RN, had heard of the DAISY Awards, honoring extraordinary nurses. She’d even been nominated for one in the past. But as a per diem nurse working for Nursefinders, a staffing agency that is part of AMN Healthcare, she didn’t know if she’d ever actually receive one.

Surprise! This year, that all changed. “I actually got to win one!” she says.

In fact, each year AMN recognizes excellent travel and per diem nurses who stand out in their care of patients, and Tia, who worked for Nursefinders in Tucson, definitely fit the bill.

Her recruiter, Sam Lee, says that Tia always exhibits impressive dedication to her work. She’s been recognized by her patients for her outstanding care and her efficient attention to detail, and he felt it was high time that she get recognized with a DAISY Award.

“It is clear to me that nursing is not just a job to Tia but a passion for her,” he wrote in her nomination. “Her continued optimistic attitude has been contagious, not only to myself but to her patients.”

A Heart for Cardiac Patients

Like many nurses, Tia began her professional journey thinking that she might like to pursue one kind of nursing, only to find herself on a completely different path. She originally pictured herself working with mothers and their new babies in labor and delivery.

But as a certified nursing assistant, she landed a position working in the intensive care unit, rather than the maternity ward. Suddenly, she was working with sicker, older adults. But to her surprise, she discovered that she loved that environment.

“It changed my whole perception of what being a nurse meant,” she says. “And if that hadn’t happened, who knows?”

Tia eventually started working primarily in cardiac and stepdown units. Her own maternal grandmother died of a massive heart attack before she was born, and Tia knew how profoundly her death had affected her entire family. She knew she could help people like that.

“I don’t think there are a lot of jobs where you can say you love what you do, more than 10 years later,” she says. “But I do.”

One of the main reasons she loves her nursing specialty is because of the patients and their families. She develops a rapport with them. Sometimes she tries to make them laugh. And she’s straight with them, telling them what they need to know and do–and she makes it clear that she wants to help them get better.

“I always try to treat them like people, not patients,” Tia says. “You just have to get on their level.”

She eventually began working with Nursefinders because she loved the flexibility that agency nursing allows her to have, while still letting her do the kind of work that she loves.

Attention to Detail

One night, earlier in her career, Tia was working the night shift. As she glanced at one patient’s monitor, she noticed what looked like an alarming heart rhythm change. She called the patient’s doctor and charged into the patient’s room.

“I think you’re having a heart attack,” she told him.

He opened his eyes and looked at her groggily. “I’m sleeping,” he responded. But then he started to reconsider. His arms felt awfully heavy, he admitted.

Although the initial enzymes that Tia drew were negative, she wasn’t convinced. When the doctor arrived, he sent the patient right to the ICU, confirming that Tia’s instincts had been right on. The patient had had a massive heart attack. If she hadn’t been paying attention and followed up, the patient might not have made it.

Tia still thinks about that man even now, years later. What would have happened to him if she hadn’t been on duty, hadn’t been watching the monitors, hadn’t insisted on making sure the labs were drawn, hadn’t called the doctor?

That’s why Tia is a DAISY Award-winning nurse. Because she does that sort of thing. She’s fun, and her patients enjoy her presence, but she’s also dedicated to saving and improving lives.

Read more about AMN Healthcare’s partnership with The DAISY Foundation and other DAISY Award winners.

Nursefinders is seeking caring and skilled nurses for per diem shifts in cities across the U.S.

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