Part four of our week-long series highlighting the amazing work our nurses do every day.
Craig Connor, RN – the Communicator
Craig Connor wasn’t always a nurse. He’d had jobs in sales and a degree in electronics, but as a very young man, he’d worked in a healthcare setting at Temple with his mother, who was a shop steward for 11199C. Connor’s wife, also a nurse, was the first to suggest nursing as a career for him.
As a nurse, Connor had sampled quite a few areas of healthcare delivery.
“I started in the ER,” he said. “I did Ortho/Neuro, and home care, which was my favorite part of nursing.”
But after being injured in an auto accident, Craig’s doctors recommended he find a practice that would be slightly less physically demanding.
“I decided to look for a job in Psych where I could do more communication than lifting and bending.”
Connor now works at Wernersville State Hospital as a Psychiatric Nurse and has found a new calling for his interests and skillset.
“I’ve always been interested in the brain and how things work,” he explained. “It’s very interesting to me that there’s such a very thin line sometimes between insanity and genius.”
Connor spends his deals caring for patients with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, borderline personality and other psychiatric and behavioral issues.
“My typical day is just trying to communicate,” he said. “Follow the patient’s care plan, have therapeutic conversations to bring patients back to baseline. And hopefully keep the peace on the unit.”
The challenges come when patients with more aggressive disorders become agitated. But Connor is quick to remember that these are his patients and their behavior is as much a cry for help as anything.
“We do have some very delusional, combative and very aggressive patients,” he said. “That’s because they’re going through their own crisis.”
But it can be dangerous.
“The toughest part is when it gets somewhat physical. You can have behavioral breakdowns at any time. The toughest part is trying to deescalate combative individuals.”
Connor doesn’t let that dissuade him from finding the joy in his work.
“The thing that I like about psych nursing is that you truly get to use the nursing process,” he enthused. “In acute care nursing or working in a nursing home, it’s very task oriented. Here, you get to have conversations and I really feel like I can contribute, be a role model and actually use the therapeutic process to help people recover through counseling and medication. It’s nice when you see someone who starts out not being able to communicate effectively and you see them grow and change in their behaviors and actually get to see them discharged.”
His other favorite part of the job is his work with the Nurse Alliance, SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania’s professional association for RNs and LPNs. Connor, a member of the Nurse Alliance Leadership Council, takes pride in his role as a nurse leader.
“I love Nurse Alliance,” he said. “I get to participate in growing the profession and actually learning new tools that I can use in my own practice. I also like being active in pushing legislation that furthers the nursing agenda.”
If you would like to be a part of the Nurse Alliance, learn more at www.nursealliancepa.org or contact Nurse Alliance Director Deb Bonn at firstname.lastname@example.org.