Left: Amy Steele and her parents, Robyn and Jamie, who were greatly instrumental in her choice of nursing as a career.
The above picture was taken in May 2008, when Amy was recognized by the mayor of Loveland and Fort Collins, Colorado for dealing with her parents' accident so well, for continuing to do well in her classes, and for helping to put on fundraisers during her senior year. Amy was awarded the Top Teen Award that year.
When Amy Steele was a senior in high school, her parents, Robyn and Jamie, were enjoying their favorite past-time of looking at new houses in Windsor, Colorado. But this particular outing ended in a traumatic car accident. “My parents’ accident was October 14, 2007," Amy begins. "It was a gloomy Sunday afternoon. I was working as a server at a local restaurant like I did every Sunday. It was about three o'clock; there were two people in the restaurant; the manager left to go on his break, and I was the only server on when my neighbor came in. I was getting a bowl of soup for a customer when he put his hand on my shoulder and said, ‘Amy, your parents have been in a terrible accident.’ My first response was to assume it was a ridiculous joke and replied with ‘that's not funny’. He looked me straight in the eyes and said it again, and I felt like someone stole by breath, beginning to think the worst possible scenario. He walked me out to his car, where my brother and sister were already there and crying. No one knew much information other than the head emergency room (ER) nurse would meet us at outside the ER. When we got there we were indeed met by the head nurse, accompanied by the chaplain and a social worker; I knew my worst case scenario was no longer a scenario – it was a nightmare. “
At the accident a helicopter was already flown in to transport Amy's parents to Denver University Hospital, since their injuries were so severe that a hospital with the highest trauma capability was needed. The only reason they were eventually not flown out was due to a physician who drove by the scene, stopped to help, and said to get them to Medical Center for the Rockies (MCR), which had just that year opened their doors for business. The doctor added, "They don't have time to make it to Denver." Amy reflects, "Many miracles happened that day. If they would have been transferred to Denver, I was told they would not have survived. My dad coded multiple times on his way to the hospital and was losing blood so fast he needed 30 units of blood replacement." Upon arriving at MCR, both Robyn and Jamie were in surgery within a half hour.
By then Amy and her brother and sister had arrived at MCR, and were told that Jamie would not make it, and that Robyn had brain injuries and may not survive. But that tragic prediction for both parents never materialized. Jamie spent three weeks in the ICU and recovered. Robyn spent one week in the hospital and one week in rehabilitation and has fully recovered as well (and from the same kind of brain injury that took Amy's uncle’s life 3 months later from a fall on the ice. So their thankfulness for survival is bittersweet).
Amy had always been attracted to healthcare, hoping to become a physician’s assistant (P.A.); but after this experience she definitely knew she wanted to be a nurse, and to be a nurse in the ICU. Amy says she never saw a P.A. in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU); she saw doctors briefly on their rounds; but the full-time care came from nurses. They were the ones who calmed the fears of the family, who taught the family, who continually administered care to the patients. And that’s what Amy wanted to do.
So what makes a great nurse? From first-hand experience, Amy says, “Caring. Compassion. Patience. It is important that nurses not be in a rush when they are working with family or the patient.” So what will make Amy a great nurse? She connects with people and understands the importance of caring and compassion, since she and her parents were on the receiving end of it.
So who wants Amy for their nurse? I think all hands are up.