My name is Vernice England, and I’m a TCU Nurse at UPMC Montefiore. I’ve been working in the TCU (Transitional Care Unit) at UPMC Montefiore for 29 years. What keeps me in this role is the variety of patients I interact with and the moments of compassionate care I provide each day. Every 12-hour shift brings its own challenges and rewards 

Here’s a glimpse into a day in my life as a TCU nurse with UPMC 

5:00 a.m. — My alarm goes off and it’s go-time! Before I head to work, I wake up my son and help him get ready for school before dropping him off at his grandma’s. I work three 12-hour shifts per week, which means I get lots of time with my son on my days off. I appreciate that so much! 

6:30 a.m.  I make my way through the early-morning traffic of Pittsburgh and park in our employee lot where I’ll catch the shuttle to the hospital. Hopefully the shuttle is on time so I don’t experience Pittsburgh’s brisk morning temperatures! 

6:50 a.m. The shuttle drops us off in front of the hospital and we scan in for the day. In addition to being an RN on the floor, I also have responsibilities related to my role as an RNAC, or Registered Nurse Assessment Coordinator. If there’s a higher count of patients on the floor, I assist with direct patient care and set aside the paperwork associated with my role as a RNAC to complete later. 

7:00 a.m. — If I’m on the floor for the morning, I will start my room-to-room report first thing to get patient updates from the previous night shift. I also check to see how many nursing assistants I have for the day because it determines what tasks I’m taking on. Each day, I’m never sure what situation or tasks await me at work, but the variety keeps me on my toes!  

7:30 a.m. — glance at my ADL list (Activities of Daily Living) that we get from the Occupational Therapists involved in our patients’ care. The schedule the OTs set also setmy schedule, too, as my patients must have their needs taken care of before their rehabilitation sessions. 

8:00 a.m. — Next, we distribute medications and take care of patient needs like wound care, vitals, and check blood sugar levels. Patients could be recovering from strokes, amputations, transplants, or surgeries.  

10:30 a.m — I spend some moments charting information on patients’ current states of health and putting it into our system. 

Noon— Lunch! (that is—for my patients!) By this point in the day, I’ve gotten back patient test results and have discussed reports with doctors in the unit. I’ve also helped patients who may need more assistance with daily tasks like putting on lotion, moving around in bed, and eating their meals. 

2:00 p.m.— I usually take lunch around this time because the morning is so busy. On weekend shifts, me and my co-workers love to order out for lunch. There are many awesome places to order food here in Oakland, and I love the team I work with—they are like family! 

2:30 p.m. — I walk past a patient’s room and see a nurse playing the Wii with him. Activities like Wii Sports help a patient practice everyday movement and advance their healing process…plus, it’s fun! 

Throughout the day— 

Morning or afternoon, I’m always building relationships with my patients. Being a compassionate and caring person is a very important quality for nurses in the TCU, and I strive to demonstrate these qualities every shift. My co-worker and friend Melvina demonstrated these qualities one Christmas when she bought gifts for all the patients in the TCU to help them have a nice holiday. It’s people like my co-worker Melvina that really make the TCU a special place to work. 

Listening is also a huge part of my job. Hearing a patient out and listening to their concerns, problems, or even nostalgic recollections is an important and simple way to provide care. This practice also contextualizes decisions regarding a patient’s course of care and helps me take a more holistic approach to medicine in the TCU. 

6:00 p.m. —  At this point in the day, the last of medications for the day shift have been distributed and preparation for the night shift has begun. It’s important for me to stay organized so that I can be ready for the next nurse on the TCU to care for their assigned patient load. I pass along information about test results, upcoming tasksor care plans while the next nurse and I do room-to-room reports. 

7:00 p.m. —  My 12-hour shift is done! I gather my things, head to the shuttle, and make my wato my mom’s house to pick up my son. I’m greeted with a warm hug and a home cooked meal!  

And that’s what it’s like to be a TCU nurse! My days fly by, and the variety of patients always helps me learn something new. If you love interacting with patients and making an impact in their healing process, the TCU could be a great fit for you! 

Are you ready to take on a role that changes lives and helps others? 

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