Kristin Kraus, MA, BSN, RN, CNOR has been an operating room nurse for over 15 years and is currently working as a Vascular Team Leader and CNOR Coach at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, MD. Exposed to specialty nursing early in her career, this dedicated nurse is committed to helping others through their professional journies, whether it be finding their passions or assisting through the certification process.Kristin began her career working in the evening, scrubbing or circulating any and every case she could. The wide range of cases Kristin was exposed to in the evening shift allowed her to obtain a variety of skills, something she took pride in. However, once she made the transition to day shift, she quickly realized the benefits to transforming into a more specialized role as the facility was in need of a vascular nurse. Kristin did not think she would enjoy vascular nursing as the patients are extremely sick, and require a lot of maintenance care to even survive. The long-term outcomes made her wary. While Kristin was reluctant to enter vascular nursing particularly, she ultimately decided to give it an honest chance, knowing she could learn a lot through the experience.
To her surprise, vascular surgery has taught Kristin a great deal about the science and heart of nursing. The patients are extremely sick and the surgeries are intense, but this requires the surgeons and the scrub techs to be exceptional at their jobs. The knowledge of those she has worked with over the years has always been extremely impressive, and the care provided to the patients has inspired Kristin like never before. When she first entered vascular surgery, the surgeons were very understanding of her learning curve, patiently and clearly answering her questions offering her valuable insight into the field and her new role. The techs also assisted in her growth, showing Kristin where to find specific supplies in a sea of wires, balloons and stents, later explaining why a certain item was requested after the case. Kristin describes this team effort to advance her skillset and knowledge as being motivated by the well-being of the patient - they were all there to ensure the best possible outcome for the patient. Seeing firsthand how providing high quality care is a true team effort, Kristin returns the favor to support staff members as the facility's CNOR Coach.
While the technical knowledge has always been magnificent, the care that the vascular team shows the patients is truly awe-inspiring. Each member of the OR calls the patients by name rather than referencing the diagnosis or procedure. The interactions between the staff and patients always comes across genuine and sincere, as if they are speaking to an old friend. The patients are truly seen as an extension of the facility family. Kristin recalls how she has seen the surgeons hugging patients and how techs once helped her bathe a homeless patient post op so they could be discharged clean and fresh. The respect and concern for the patient shown by her team has continued to motivate Kristin on her journey to ensuring the best possible care is always provided.
This exceptional team has helped Kristin redefine good outcomes. It is always easy to celebrate the big complicated surgeries but incredible things are done every day in vascular surgery. She finds great satisfaction when they canget blood flowing in a patient or help a patient heal and learn to walk on prosthetic limbs. Kristin now finds the most meaning in the small things she has the opportunity to do on a daily basis. She recalls one patient who had come from an inpatient unit for a procedure. While reviewing his chart to plan his care she noticed the quiet man sitting alone. Kristin reached out in attempts to connect and ease his mind. To Kristin's surprise, rather than discussing the procedure, he asked if he could walk around the hospital post-op. Concerned the patient wanted to plan for his next cigarette, she Kristin brainstorming how she would warn him about the effects of smoking on his blood vessels. After continuing the conversation, Kristin learned the patient actually wanted to buy a newspaper as he was hard of hearing and did not like to watch television.
This moment has stuck with Kristin as she realized in that moment that she had been seeing him as a vascular patient, rather than an individual. Quickly becoming aware of the situation and remembering the genuine care offered by her team members, Kristin came up with a plan to make the experience more enjoyable for the patient. She worked with the surgeon to pick up a newspaper on his way to pre-op to surprise the patient, heightening spirits before entering the OR. This experience has shaped Kristin's career as she realized that sometimes a nurse can be most therapeutic to patients by meeting their individual needs.
As a natural leader and passionate nurse, Kristin continues to work hard strengthening the care provided within her facility as a CNOR Coach and member on the vascular team.