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Nurses Week profile: Tracy Engels, RN, MSN

Tracy EngelsWe celebrated Nurses Week by taking the time to recognize the amazing nurses in our lives. Meet Tracy Engels, RN, MSN from the Infant Apnea Program, who has been with Children’s Minnesota for ten years. In this profile, Tracy describes her daily experiences as a RN for the program, her favorite Children’s memory and what inspired her to join the nursing profession.

Describe your role as a nurse in the Infant Apnea Program.

Our team of several nurses discharge babies home who require home apnea monitors and/or have significant gastroesophageal reflux. Once discharged from the hospital we provide a weekly follow up via the phone to support families caring for their babies. We are also on call 24/7 for our families should they have any questions/concerns regarding their baby’s health.

What inspired you to become a nurse?

Growing up I was very close to a “grandmother” figure who would babysit for me and my siblings. One day we were making cookies and she said, “Tracy, you’re going to be a nurse” – so that planted the seed. In college, I knew I wanted to do something in the health profession: I wanted a great deal of flexibility – a career that would allow me to work as much or as little I chose depending on the needs of my family.

What does a typical work day look like for the type of nursing you do?

I meet with families one on one to teach them CPR, how to use their home apnea monitors and how to best manage their baby’s reflux. I also spend a great deal of time on the phone making follow up calls with the parents of our babies. In between the classes and phone calls, I collaborate with nurses on the floors to make sure the families are ready for discharge in terms of using the home apnea monitors and Danny Slings safely. I am also the chairperson of our unit council so I enjoy working on our unit council projects.

What do you love most about your job?

What I love most about my job is watching the transformation a family experiences after being in our program. Many of our babies have been in the hospital for many weeks and/or months; their babies are ready to go home but not without a home apnea monitor and/or support regarding their baby’s reflux. When they come to us they are often very scared and nervous to take their baby home. By the time they are discharged from our program, their babies are thriving and the parents feel confident in their ability to care for their baby.

What do you think is the most important part of being a nurse?

I feel listening is the most important part of my job. Before we can truly help a family, we need to understand where they are coming from and what their concerns are at the present moment. Each family comes to us with a unique experience which often includes great stress. Once I understand their “story” and concerns, I can then help them in a way that is meaningful to them. I once heard someone say, “Try to listen, not be listened to.” Remembering that phrase helps me to be a better nurse and coworker.

What do you think makes kids amazing?

Children love unconditionally. I believe if you give a child love and respect they will soar.

What is your favorite memory of working at Children’s?

In 2017, I completed the Evidenced Based Practice Scholar program and worked on a project titled Racial Disparities in Sudden Unexplained Infant Death: Texting to Save Lives. Participating in the EBP was a wonderful experience. That project lead to me having the opportunity to present my work at the Society of Pediatric Nurses annual meeting in Washington, D.C. this past month. Presenting at a national conference was incredibly exciting and certainly a highlight of my nursing career.

Alexandra Rothstein