Category Archives: Staff Profiles and News

Five Question Friday: Jill Bauer

Meet Jill Bauer, an outreach nurse liaison at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.

 

How long have you worked at Children’s? I worked at Children’s as a travel nurse in the mid 80s but became an actual employee in January 2000.

What drew you to Children’s? Before coming to Children’s, I always admired the skilled expertise of the Children’s neonatal transport teams when they came to pick up infants who had become too critical for us to keep at the hospital I was working in at that time. I knew when I left that job someday, Children’s was the only hospital where I wanted to go so that I could be a part of that team!

You recently returned from Prague, where you presented at the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing 24th International Nursing Research Congress. Can you tell us a little bit about your presentation? Yes! That presentation really expresses my passion for nursing and caring for neonates. It also emphasizes the opportunities that I believe nurses have to impact infant outcomes not only locally, but globally as well. After traveling to Guatemala, Uganda and Saudi Arabia multiple times to work and teach, I became more and more aware of how much the barriers in those environments inhibited education from becoming sustained practice change that could improve infant outcomes. I ended up choosing that topic for my final master’s degree project which was a critical review of the literature: “The Impact of Neonatal Resuscitation training on Infant Outcomes in Low Resource Countries.”

As nurses, we have the ability to do amazing things in this country to improve infant lives. Nurses in many other environments are often not so fortunate. Many barriers prevent nurses from obtaining knowledge and implementing it into best care practices for their patients. I really wanted to improve my understanding of this so that I could create educational strategies for those environments that decreased or removed as many barriers as possible and led to sustained care interventions and practice. I learned a lot through that work and had opportunities to share it with staff in Uganda and Saudi Arabia. When the opportunity came to also share the research in Prague at an international conference, I was thrilled.  Eight hundred nurses from 46 countries attended the conference and it was an incredible opportunity to be able to network with others who share my passion!

What do you love most about working at Children’s? I remember the first day I walked into Children’s to work. It felt like such a happy environment and I knew I was going to love being here! I have had two roles at Children’s. The first was in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Attending births and having the experience of being a part of the team that helps a tiny life get started, works to strengthen it, and then send it home to their family can’t be beat. I have been honored to be a part of so many beautiful moments and miracles in the NICU area. Of course not every day is easy, but even working with families through the daily NICU struggles can be a gift.

In 2006 I became the neonatal outreach nurse for Children’s. In this role I share education and Children’s resources with peers in referral hospitals around our region. I love teaching, but when I hear that our outreach education or training has helped a nurse or physician improve or save the life of one of their infants because of what they learned from me or the outreach team, it is the best feedback I can get! When I first stepped out of the NICU, I missed the infants and families terribly until I realized that the impact that was possible through outreach could be just as fulfilling, but perhaps on a different scale. I am so very grateful to Children’s for the many wonderful experiences that I have had in this position!

How do you spend your time outside of work? My husband and I love spending time with our kids and granddaughters more than anything else! We also both love traveling (we always try to keep at least one trip in front of us), biking, walking our two dogs, and working on projects around the house. A family cruise coming up this winter to celebrate my husband’s birthday will bless us with two of the things we enjoy most!!! I also am always waiting and hoping for the next mission adventure as I wonder when and where it might be!

Have a Five Question Friday suggestion? Send the name to Brady Gervais at Brady.Gervais@ChildrensMN.org.

Five Question Friday: Dr. Susan Sencer

It’s National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, so we want to use this Five Question Friday to feature one of our oncologists, Dr. Susan Sencer.

Dr. Susan Sencer

How long have you worked at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota? I have been at Children’s since 1991 as a “full-fledged doctor.”  I really have been here on and off since 1982, though, since I came to both hospitals as a medical student and resident.

What drew you to treating kids with cancer? Oncology is an area of medicine which draws upon all of my skills and interests.  It’s very scientifically interesting, since new things are always being discovered, learned or put into practice.  Equally importantly, though, dealing with children with cancer is very emotionally rewarding, although certainly emotionally challenging as well.

It’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. If you could make families aware about anything about pediatric cancer, what would it be? Most children will never have to deal with cancer, or any other life-threatening illness.Thankfully. But if they do, most childhood cancers are now curable because of the many amazing medical advances over the last 50 years. Cancer treatment for children is an example of medical research at its best.

What do you love most about your job? Well, I certainly love my patients and their families. But I have to say that I also really love the people I work with.  I think that the people who are drawn to working with children with cancer or life-threatening blood disorders are a unique bunch.  Generally I say we are “quirky” and I love that about the folks I work with.

Do you have a favorite memory from working at Children’s? There is no one favorite memory. I treasure most of my memories, even when things don’t go well, or something tragic happens; my hope always is that by accompanying a child and his or her family on the cancer journey, we will have made a positive difference in some way. But one of my favorite times is when old patients come back to show off their own babies or college degrees or wedding photos!

Five Question Friday: Laurel Edinburgh

Meet Laurel Edinburgh, a  nurse practitioner at the Midwest Children’s Resource Center at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. Laurel was recently named an outstanding nurse by Minneapolis-St. Paul Magazine.  Read more about Laurel. 

How long have you worked at Children’s? I have worked at Children’s since 1999. I started working on my oldest child’s first day of pre-school. I am driving him to college this week! It has been 14 years.

What drew you to pediatrics? I love children – the way they believe in magic, blow bubbles, give you a hug, and they have interesting perspectives on life. They ask fascinating questions. They love their parents.

What do you enjoy most about working at Children’s? I adore my co-workers. My job provides me with the flexibility to provide clinical care to children and their families within the hospital and in the community. Beside providing clinical care, I have been allowed to participate in guiding and developing policy for sexually trafficked youth. I also have a chance to design my own research projects, teach and mentor students. Being a nurse at Children’s has allowed me the opportunity to follow my passions and use all of my facets of my nursing education.

What do you think makes kids great? I love that kids believe all things are possible. They can be nurses, sports stars, astronauts, scientists, police officers and judges – they can do all these jobs at the same time when they grow up. They think there is a chance to cure every disease, they see hope where I see none, they see humor when I see frustration, they see a game when I see more work to do, they remind me to slow down and enjoy the tiny moments. It is the process of figuring out a problem that may be the most important and not always the results. Kids remind me to laugh at Elmo and to eat more cookies and ice cream. 

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? I would like to travel to Auckland, New Zealand. I have heard there are amazing mud baths, beautiful scenery and I love New Zealand accents.

 

Five Question Friday: Angie Norvitch

Meet Angie Norvitch, who works in our marketing and communications department as an interactive designer.

Angie NorvitchWhat drew you to Children’s? I have always wanted to work in health care, but as a web designer, I didn’t really know how that would ever look in my career path. When a friend encouraged me to pursue the position here, I knew it’s where I was supposed to be.

What is a typical day like for you? Some days I get to spend lots of time at my desk thinking creatively and working on a multitude of fun projects. Other days I might be spending most of my time in meetings collaborating with others on projects. Really, no day is typical for me, but that’s fun for me, I enjoy the change from day to day.

What’s your favorite font? Proxima Nova. It’s just simple and pretty.

What has been your best day at Children’s? I’ve had quite a few days that have been favorites, like guest appearing on Star Studio, making smoothies with the Youth Advisory Council members, and the Andrew Zimmern visit. But the day that stands out most to me was when I accompanied a patient and his family to the Vikings draft party. He got VIP treatment and it was so fun to get to see him light up and his day absolutely made.

We know you’re a huge sports fan. Who’s your favorite athlete and why? It’s pretty well known I love baseball the most. My favorite current Twins players are Brian Dozier and Joe Mauer. Favorite former Twins player: Torii Hunter. All three of them are very respectable role models and talented ball players.  But, my absolute favorite athlete is Tim Tebow. His life story is just really inspiring and he just seems like a very genuine and humble guy.

Five Question Friday: Kathy Parrish

Meet Kathy Parrish, who works in our lactation support program.

Kathy Parrish

How long have you worked at Children’s? I have worked at Children’s 24 years this month. I have worked in the three neonatal units, the float team and ED and SSU. I have been in the lactation support program for two-and-a-half years. I never expected to be a lactation consultant. In December 2010, I had just finished my master’s in holistic health studies, and I knew that I wanted to work more closely with families without having the responsibility of caring for their babies. When the lactation consultant job was posted, I accepted the position (I was a certified lactation counselor at the time) with the stipulation that I pass the International Lactation Board in July, six months later. Lactation consulting is about so much more than breastfeeding. We also work with families on stress reduction, discuss normal growth and development, and the changes that occur in family dynamics when the new baby comes home. I also am the principle investigator on a research study call the GIRLS-Guided Imagery Reduces Stress and Improves Lactation Study. We are trying to find ways to increase milk supply and decrease stress. This study is for moms of babies born at less than 30 weeks. The control group logs their milk production and does a NICU Parent Stress Questionnaire. The research group also listens to a guided imagery relaxation recording three times a day while they pump. We are just analyzing the data now-so more info to come.

What is your role in Children’s lactation support program? What’s a typical day like for you? That’s a difficult question because we do so many things. I am a staff nurse and international board certified lactation consultant, I am board-certified in holistic nursing and I am half of the lactation support program. We try to see all moms who are breastfeeding or pumping for breastmilk. Our primary role is to educate and support those moms. We also do staff education, teach the breastfeeding portion of fundamentals of neonatal nursing, and orient the new neonatal nurses to lactation support. We do a lot of “by the way” consultations, which means that we can’t walk down a hall without being asked questions about breastfeeding or medications that a mom is taking.  On a typical day, I check the computer for new admissions or new lactation orders and then I hit the ground running. With close to 95 percent of the moms in the three neonatal areas initiating pumping or breastfeeding, there is always somebody to see. I spend anywhere from a few minutes to an hour or more with families, depending on their needs, which translates to 8-14 dyads (mom and baby) per shift.

What drew you to Children’s? Fate. In 1989, as my family was preparing to move to Minnesota (my home, but I had married a Texan and lived there for 20 years), I came to the Twin Cities six months ahead of our move and interviewed at several hospitals. Children’s was the only hospital that would hold a job for me for six months. Fate.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? If I could travel anywhere in the world, I would go to Tuscany. It’s one of the few things left on my bucket list. Why Tuscany? The blue skies, blue water, Italian food. I don’t really know what draws me, but I know that I will go there soon.

Five Question Friday: Michael Scribner-O’Pray

Meet Michael Scribner-O’Pray, an RN in the Emergency Department at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.

Michael Scribner O'Pray and his daughter, Grace

How long have you worked at Children’s? I started working at Children’s as an Emergency Medical Technician in the Emergency Department in 1998 while I was going to nursing school.  After graduating in 2000, I worked as a nurse on the float team for a year before coming back home to the Emergency Department in 2001.

What drew you to pediatrics? When our daughter, Grace, was admitted to Children’s as a toddler, I experienced, first-hand, what a difference great nursing care can make for a family. We were frightened by how sick our daughter had become and struggled to make sense of the storm of new information and emotions swirling around us in the Emergency Department.

Thankfully, the care providers we encountered (most memorably, Marie Koldberg, RN) were calm, confident and remarkably skilled.  They not only engaged our daughter directly, as the patient, they treated us, her parents, as the principal members of Grace’s health care team. During our four-day stay at Children’s, I realized that great nursing requires its practitioners to engage their entire selves – emotionally, intellectually, physically and spiritually.

What do you enjoy most about working in the Emergency Department? What could be better than getting paid to meet remarkable families every day and help alleviate suffering?

We have opportunities every day to build bridges with people from vastly different life experiences from our own. What a joy it is to see the look of surprise on people’s faces when they are greeted and asked genuinely about how they are feeling in their family’s own language! (Collectively, our staff can do this in at least 15 different languages: Amharic, Arabic, Cantonese, French, Haitian Creole, Hebrew, Italian, Mandarin, Ojibwe, Oromo, Polish, Russian, Somali, Spanish and Vietnamese)

Kids and their parents often arrive in the Emergency Department hurt and scared, and we get to play a role in helping them find relief. Sometimes our interventions are as simple as offering a kind word or warm blanket, and sometimes what we do is as complex and carefully rehearsed as a major theater production.  Although we encounter plenty to go home and cry about, more often than not, we also get to witness the transformation of pain and fear into relief and joy, of suspicion and anger into trust and understanding, of grief and powerlessness into hope and constructive action.

Do you have a favorite memory from working at Children’s? For more than a decade now, Mindy Teele, a a child life specialist in the department, has been encouraging us to find creative ways to make frightening procedures like laceration repairs and IV starts more child-friendly.

Many of my favorite memories are of times that we’ve succeeded in surpassing everyone’s expectations:  the 2-year-old with a 3-inch gash in her forehead who sat happily in her mother’s lap playing playdough and coloring with her dad while we put 30 stitches in her forehead…. the 1-year-old whose mother sang her to sleep in her arms while we closed a cut right next to her eye….  the 4-year-old boy who “never sits still” who sat up by himself in bed playing with water toys while we stitched up the back of his head…. all the times each week that kids (and parents) have left our Emergency Department feeling stronger, happier and more capable than they did when they arrived — these are my favorite memories.

How do you spend your time outside of work? My schedule working weekends in the Emergency Department allows me to do some extra things during the week including driving our teenagers around town, helping to provide in-home care for my mother-in-law who has Alzheimers, and volunteering one day each week as a farm hand on a small family dairy farm near Red Wing, Minn.

I also enjoy growing food, building and fixing things, canoeing, and learning primitive skills such as basketry and weaving, birchbark canoe building, hide tanning, bow building, and foraging for wild edibles.

Five Question Friday: Jessica Taylor

Meet Jessica Taylor, a pharmacist in our intensive care units.

Jessica Taylor

Why did you become a pharmacist? Unfortunately, there is not a “magical” answer for that question.  When I began thinking about what I wanted to do in the future, I knew that I enjoyed and did well in math and science and I also enjoyed helping people.  At that time, our neighbor’s daughter was a pharmacist and my mother suggested I look into that profession, but to be honest, I never stepped foot into a pharmacy until I was in college. I applied to a program out of high school for undergraduate and pharmacy school work, and the rest is history.  Fortunately for me, the more I began to learn about what a pharmacist does and the opportunities there were in the profession, the more I realized that I had indeed made the right decision to pursue this career.  A chance decision which worked out for the better, pharmacy fits well with how my brain works.

What drew you to pediatrics? Like most people who go in to pediatrics, I have always loved children.  Nearly all of my jobs have involved caring for children.  At first I was nanny in the summer for three wonderful boys. From going on hikes, to catching frogs to taking them to t-ball, we were always having adventures.  I then become a Girl Scout camp counselor where I was a lifeguard, counselor and ropes-course facilitator who taught young girls to sail, canoe, wind-surf, overcome their fears on the high-ropes course and teach them about having fun in the outdoors. I love the curiosity, playfulness, goofiness, honesty and hope that shine through in each individual child’s personality and combing my passion for children, with my career choice seemed like the perfect combination!

What do you enjoy most about your job? I love how resilient children are. I work primarily as a decentralized pharmacist in the intensive care units on the Minneapolis campus and in those units, I get to be a part of the team that cares for these incredibly sick children.  I enjoy working with the team to optimize their care, especially as it relates to medications.  But more than that, it constantly amazes me how quickly these children heal after heart surgery or some major illness, and I am honored daily that I get to play a small part in their care.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? Traveling is one thing that I take pleasure in and wish I could do more of!  If I could travel anywhere in the world, I would travel to India.  I enjoy learning about and experiencing different cultures (especially the food!) and would love to visit Taj Mahal, Varanasi, Udaipur and many other places.

When you’re not at work, how do you spend your time? I spend a lot of time either in Des Moines, Iowa, visiting familiar faces or at home in the Twin Cities.  Usually you can find me listening to music concerts in the parks during the summer, visiting a farmer’s market, trying a new restaurant, or catching a Twins or Wild game.

Five Question Friday: Ingrid Arnold

If I were president of the hospital, I would send every patient a volunteer. — patient sibling

Meet Ingrid Arnold, volunteer coordinator at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.

Ingrid Arnold

What is your day in Volunteer Services like at Children’s? Though there are some daily tasks (providing volunteers with assignments, managing our department’s social media channels, planning our next recognition event or training new volunteers), each day brings its own variety–which I love. During volunteer interviews, I always ask the applicants why they chose Children’s. Some come in with a definite reason–for example, brother was a patient here–while others find their reason during their volunteer journey. I know that I’ve done my job when volunteers take pride in having chosen Children’s as the recipient of their time and talents, and when they truly live and understand our mission of providing the best care to our patients and families. We have unit coordinators, nurses, child life specialists, doctors, and volunteer coordinators (smile) who were all once Children’s volunteers. That speaks volumes!

What drew you to Children’s? Children’s is such an incredible place. To nurture my love of kids and healthcare, I volunteered on the Children’s Minneapolis campus throughout high school. I knew after my first shift that I wanted to work here when I finished college. The staff at Children’s share a common goal: to get kids better. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that? We all have a role and work together to provide kids with the best medical care, emotional support, and developmental experiences possible. At Children’s we don’t just repair a cut or perform an appendectomy… we blow bubbles during an exam, provide healing through massage and music therapy, and have skilled volunteers to offer families a break!

What do you love most about working here? I have the pleasure of talking about Children’s and the incredible work that we do on a daily basis, whether in a volunteer interview, while training on the inpatient units, or at an orientation session. Giving back to the community is so important, and not only do I believe this, but Children’s does, too; I take great pride in that. I experience the act of volunteerism on a daily basis, and take pleasure in practicing it in my daily life. I enjoy helping at Children’s events, whether it be teaching kids about endurance at the Cystic Fibrosis Relay for Life Walk, serving lunch in the Ronald McDonald House, or talking about the services that we provide at the Baby Steps 3K. The opportunity to be a part of a kid getting well and leaving Children’s with a smile is the icing on the cake.

Do you have a favorite Children’s memory? As cheesy as it sounds, I make a rewarding memory every day–though there are a few that I will always remember. On one occasion, I spoke with a nurse who requested a volunteer for a baby whose parents needed to return to work; they were devastated to have to leave their baby. I introduced Mom to a wonderful volunteer, and watched Mom transition the baby from her arms to the volunteer’s. Mom left, wiped her eyes, put her hand on my shoulders and said, “Thank you.” She knew that her daughter was not only receiving the best medical care, but that she would be in the arms of a volunteer until Mom returned to the hospital after work.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up? When I was little, I wanted to be a pediatrician. I have always had a passion for working with kids and have been intrigued by healthcare. I remember watching ER weekly with my dad, and being glued to the TV for Rescue 911 and other emergency medicine type shows. As I grew up, the fevers, sutures and needles became less appealing (much easier when pretending on dolls as a little girl), but my passion for helping others and interacting with kids remained. I am thrilled that these passions led me to Children’s!

Five Question Friday: John Vaughn

Meet John Vaughn,  manager of IT Service Delivery.

John Vaughn

Describe what a typical day is like for you at Children’s? Wow, I’m not sure if there is ever a “typical” day here at Children’s!  That’s part of what I love so much about working here, the constant change, challenge, and variety.  On some days I may be sitting in on project status and implementation meetings, other days reviewing customer service metrics,  and on other days I’m out rounding on the floors to better understand what is working well for our customers and what are our opportunities to improve.  Every day holds a different challenge!

What drew you to Children’s? I’ve worked in a lot of different industries, from manufacturing to education, but I think what drew me to Children’s, and keeps me coming back for more, is the opportunity to feel like the work that I do has a positive impact on the lives of the children and families within our community.

What do you love most about your job? I love hearing the stories from our patients and families about how Children’s changed their lives and knowing that in some small way that I played a part in making sure that our clinicians were able to support the healthcare needs of those children.  I love working with a team who has a passion for helping kids.  Whether that’s shown through fixing a computer, answering a phone call at 3 a.m., or by checking out an iPad through the Geek Squad, we have the opportunity to make technology work better for everyone who steps through the doors of Children’s.

What is your favorite Children’s memory? I think that my favorite Children’s memory would be running in the HeartBeat 5000 last year.  I was running in support of some close friends of mine whose child spent a lot of time up in the cardiovascular care center (CVCC).  It was very emotional being able to run for them and also to see the overwhelming turnout of patients, families, clinicians, and staff in support of Children’s and children’s heart health.  It makes you feel like you’re a part of a larger team of people focused on helping your community.

How do you spend your time outside of work? I’m married with two younger kids (3 and 7), which means that the kids and all of their activities definitely keep my wife and me busy and on our toes!  Now that it is finally summer (right?), I try to get out running and cycling as much as possible.  I typically run a number of races over the summer, bike the MS150, and I am training for my very first marathon in October.  Finally, I think I might lose a lot of my “IT Geek Cred” if I neglected to mention that I am prone to tinker with absolutely every piece of technology that I can get my hands on at home.  My wife believes that I may have something called shiny objects syndrome.  She’s probably right.

 

Five Question Friday: Elin Neugebauer

 

Meet Elin Neugebauer, a health unit coordinator, at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.

What drew you to Children’s? When my daughter was born with a congenital heart defect, my life changed in numerous ways. I have a degree in communication studies, and I wanted to begin advocating for children. Health care does not start and stop in the patient room, and Children’s is an amazing example of complete patient and family care. We are involved in the community in a variety of ways, and I was drawn to Children’s because of how much I wanted to be involved in our various programs.

Elin Neugebauer

What do you love most about Children’s? I love how Children’s encourages and provides opportunities to become involved with our families and patients outside of our daily department. Through our Making Safe Simple events, fundraisers like HeartBeat 5000, and various groups that assist with community events, education, advocacy, and policy, I have had the opportunity to be involved with Children’s in an incredibly enriching way. It has been wonderful to work with children and families in fun learning environments, and to receive additional education and training for myself on how we can improve children’s health care.

On June 22, you’ll participate in the HeartBeat 5000. Can you tell us about your team and why you’re participating? My daughter’s team is Seven of Hearts and this will be our second year at HeartBeat, first as a team. I chose that name because her first heart surgery was on July 7. Last year it was just her and I who ran in the event. I decorated the jogging stroller with hearts and pushed her while I ran. It was amazing to see all the teams gathered together, sharing stories about their heart kids, and advocating for congenital heart defect awareness and research. I was also greatly impressed with all the informational booths at HeartBeat,  and I came away with a lot of helpful information and new friends. This year Maija and I will be running with a team of eight people. Every step of the event, each connection made, they are all so important to the heart community. We are advocating for our children and spreading awareness of the most common birth defect.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be? Since I was a little girl, I have wanted to travel to Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. I grew up celebrating various Scandinavian holidays, enjoying special foods, and surrounded by numerous photos and traditional decorations. The fjords in Norway and the coastline and Nyhavn canal in Denmark are at the top of my list for sites to see.

Is there a staff member you’d like to see featured in Five Question Friday? Send your suggestion to Brady, social media specialist, at Brady.Gervais@ChildrensMN.org.