New Thing Nurse (NTN): The New Thing Nurse Blog is all about learning from each other by sharing our professional journeys. How did you fall into nursing? And what area of nursing did you start in?
Lauren Plaine (LP): Well I definitely fell into nursing. Growing up I always wanted to be a doctor, but that was not in the plans for me. I completed an EMT class in high school and began running with my local rescue squad my junior year. My initial major was athletic training until I realized that I really did not want to stand on the side of a high school football field for the rest of my life. Through running rescue, I had interacted with the nurses in the ER and decided maybe I could be a nurse. In nursing school, I worked as an ER Tech and my manager picked me up as a new graduate. Honestly, had she not hired me I’m not sure I would still be a nurse today because I love working in the ER.
NTN: You are a very active member in the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA), the largest professional organization in the world for emergency nurses, and had a very special role with them in 2018. Can you tell us about ENA, why you are so active with them, and about your amazing role within the organization that you held all last year?
LP: I am someone who will ask you all about “the why” of a decision. I like to know how you got to your conclusion and after many questions, my manager encouraged me to join ENA to help understand why we do what we do in the ER and how our practice is guided. From there, I became very involved in my local chapter finding that ENA truly is a resource for education and networking, but even more so a community of like-minded ER nurses who simply want to better our corner of the world. On a whim, yes a whim (ask my mother), I applied for the Emerging Professional Liaison position for the National Board of Directors. Stunned when I received my confirmation of appointment, I could not image the level of inclusivity that I was about to experience. I sat as a non-voting board member, but was treated like any other director. All of the board members valued my perspective and opinion. Millennials are the largest group in the nursing workforce, and with this role I felt that ENA values our perspective and is placing an emphasis on cultivating the next generation of nurses and leaders.
NTN: How was it being a younger nurse on a board with such experienced nurse leaders? What lessons did you learn from that experience that you have found valuable as a newer nurse and new nurse leader?
LP: It is very intimidating to be the youngest and least experienced at a board table. I was not sure I wanted to speak at all the first meeting for fear that I would sound unintelligent and inexperienced. Let’s be honest, my previous baby nurse experiences in the ER were not always welcoming. During my first meeting when I was holding back, Jeff Solheim, 2018 ENA President, called me out for my opinion and to offer the emerging professional perspective (insert sweaty palms here). As I shared, I found everyone listening intently just as they had to other perspectives. What I learned is that our engaged ENA leaders truly care what everyone has to say. What I found meeting after meeting is that even as an emerging professional, I have the ability to make change with the help of this organization.
NTN: What motivated you to make that transition into your "new thing" as the Emerging Professional Liaison?
LP: Everyone complains about their problems and the problems in their department or lives, but you are just as much of the problem if you sit idly by. Be the change agent. I was tired of accepting the status quo and decided that it was not enough for me any more. You are responsible for living every moment. So, I ask myself frequently - Are you satisfied with your life or is there something you can change to make it and the world a better place?
NTN: Do you have any tips for anyone out there who might be considering jumping into a "new thing" of their own, especially for any of our newer nurse readers?
LP: I have three suggestions for anyone who is thinking about jumping into their new thing. First, stop the self-doubt and go after what it is you want. Only you can change the life you live. Second, ask yourself what is your why? What drives you to make this change? Write it down and post it somewhere you can see it every day. Third, be aggressive about your ambition. Stop holding back, because the world could be a very different place if you actively seek to improve yourself and the world around you.
NTN: The focus of New Thing Nurse is supporting nurses as they find their "new thing." As you have now completed your year as the first ever Emerging Professional Liaison for ENA, what will be your "new thing" for 2019?
LP: My new thing is my national committee appointment. I am serving a two-year term for ENA’s Emergency Management & Preparedness Committee. Emergency and disaster management is something that I am very passionate about and I am perusing my Master’s in this field of study. My other new thing is public speaking. I hope to make new opportunities in 2019 for speaking engagements.
NTN: I happen to know that you are also super passionate about physical fitness. Can you tell our readers about why physical fitness is important to you, and how it helps in your nursing practice?
LP: I use fitness as an outlet for my stress, but I also think its important for us to be examples of health to our patients. It’s also nice to work with a different population. In the hospital we see a lot of people who do not value their health, but at the gym everyone in my classes comes because they actually care.
NTN: Do you have any other advice for our readers?
LP: Find your why. Why nursing as a career? Why you went to the gym? Why you ate that delicious pizza (jk… maybe?). But in all seriousness, asking yourself to evaluate the why behind the important things in your life will help you with personal development and creating a better future you.