On the Job What do you do at the UI? I'm a staff registered nurse at McKinley Health Center. For the past three years I've worked for the 'dial-a-nurse' phone-in assistance program. When did you begin your nursing career? 1969. I remember audible sighs of relief from my family when they first found out I was going to be a nurse. Being raised in the South, that was generally the chosen profession - either nursing or teaching. I was drawn to the informative side of nursing. I like having that base of knowledge. How does working for 'dial-a-nurse' compare with the nursing you've done in the past? With 'dial-a-nurse,' we put power back into the hands of the students. We let them know what they can do to improve their conditions and, in after-hours situations, help them until they can get into McKinley the next day. We give information that they can apply at home in crisis situations and also where general health is concerned. So 'dial-a-nurse' is offered 24-hours a day? Yes. At certain times there are up to six nurses at once handling phone-in questions. On average, how many call do you receive during an eight-hour shift? It can be anywhere from 70 to several hundred. What do people call about the most? Seasonal injuries. In warm weather, it's injuries from outdoor sports, and in the winter, it's upper-respiratory problems. There are also unique concerns before and right after spring break, such as what to do about sunburns, for instance. And that's not even getting into the sex and general health questions we handle. How hard is it assessing problems over the phone? It's not too hard if you have a broad nursing background. When someone calls in and he or she has a series of complaints or symptoms, we can usually group those and get an idea of what's going on. We make an assessment and determine if the caller has a current need just to cope with symptoms, an urgent need to get into the emergency room, or a delayed need that can wait until the next day. Does anyone call in just looking for good advice? We joke around here about me being the 'dial-a-mom,' because it's a point of pride for students not to call home and so they call us. I have a favorite group of girls who call me and get advice whether they need it or not, and I get a lot of callers writing papers at night with 'how many bones are there in the body' type questions. Do faculty and staff members use the service as well? We have primarily students calling, but occasionally faculty or other employees. Students are our main focus, but sometimes we help a faculty member contact the right department when he or she is concerned about a student. What are some of your other duties in addition to 'dial-a-nurse'? I've worked urgent care, and that's really my first love. I've always liked the pressure-cooker atmosphere in emergency room situations. I also enjoy teaching, and when I'm not on duty here, I teach officers medical procedures in the Police Training Institute. That's been a very rewarding experience. It sounds like you really enjoy working with the college community. What do you find most rewarding about your job? Students are in the process of developing their own lifestyles and their own values. They have some wide-open choices to make, but they don't always make good choices, so to be a safety net for them in that way is very gratifying.