Sometimes, your career path can change when you least expect it. That’s what happened to firefighter Michelle Blair, when her chief asked her to ride along on a medical call. A man had fallen from a ladder and looked to her for reassurance and help, but Blair lacked the medical training to assist.
“When we got back from that call, I told my chief to sign me up for the next EMT class,” she recalls. “I was hooked.”
Two years later, she started school to earn her registered nurse (RN) degree. After beginning her nursing career in South Carolina, she made the move to Augusta Health, where she is now working in the Emergency Department (ED). Her training as both a firefighter and an EMT definitely come in handy, since she never knows what will come through the hospital doors during a shift.
“The ED is an ever-changing environment requiring quick adaptation and fast-paced work flow,” she says. “It keeps me interested and always wanting to learn more.”
Although a typical day varies — each hour can be different from the last — Blair says that there’s one constant: teamwork. Every member of the Augusta Health ED works together to provide optimal care that’s both efficient and compassionate.
After working at Augusta Health for eight years, Blair says she’s been impressed with the focus on patient care and the way that nurses feel appreciated. “There is always a sense of how can we improve?” she says. “What can make Augusta Health better for the patients? It’s invaluable to me as a professional to have the opportunity to create change and freely give opinions that affect processes and care.”
Blair has a drive for self-improvement as well. Although she regularly pulls 12-hour shifts and is married with three young children — ages 3, 6 and 9 — she’s also working to finish a master’s degree to become a nurse practitioner. With a background in cardiology, critical care, surgical care and community health, she’s hoping to work in either emergency medicine or cardiology when her studies are completed.
In the meantime, the 33-year-old tries to grab a little time for herself whenever she can, either playing tennis or painting: “Basically,” she explains, “anything in the sun!”