Three years ago Elyse Poulin (left) began her career as a newly minted nurse on Holland Bloorview’s complex continuing care unit. She works with children and teens with the most complex medical problems and disabilities—many of whom use ventilators or other life-saving equipment—and their families. BLOOM talked with Elyse about the challenges, frustrations and rewards of her work in children’s rehab.
BLOOM: Why did you go into nursing?
Elyse Poulin: I got into nursing because I liked that every day I was going to make a change in someone’s life—whether it was big or small. It was making a difference and having an impact.
BLOOM: You work with children who’ve experienced catastrophic trauma or been born with very complex medical and developmental problems. What are some of the challenges?
BLOOM: What is it like working with children who have the most serious medical problems and disabilities?
With some parents you develop very close relationships and you’re there with their child when they can’t be. The collaboration is nice, but it does come with an extra feeling of responsibility and accountability above and beyond what a nurse might normally experience.
Sometimes we go through this internal struggle because we want families to remain positive, but we have to deliver news that is not positive, and the truth can hurt. In those cases, if the family reacts negatively, it is hard to not take it personally. You have to recognize that no matter what you do, sometimes their mindset is their mindset. You definitely wish you could change the outcome of everybody’s situation.
I feel like I’m a soldier of health care. It’s my duty to protect clients and keep them healthy and happy, even if that means sacrificing myself, my energy. Helping families get through difficult situations can be incredibly taxing on us, but it’s always worth it in the end.