Nurses Week Spotlight: Elizabeth Shaw RN, BSN
May 12, 2017 § Leave a comment
When Elizabeth Shaw of Commonwealth Care Alliance discovered that her patient’s Nebulizer treatment wasn’t working, she knew she had to get the situation fixed as soon as possible. The patient had been misleadingly marked as “non-compliant,” leading many caregivers before Liz to ignore the patient’s complaints. Patients given this designation often feel ignored by the overloaded healthcare employees that are responsible for them, making the development of their care plans more difficult. No one had taken the time to listen to the patient and discover why her asthma treatment was not working the way that it should.
“‘Non-compliant’ was written everywhere so people stopped trying to see a solution,” Liz remembers about the patient. “Most people who are labeled ‘non-compliant’ would rather be compliant. If given the means and the tools, they will be.”
Liz worked hard to establish a trusting relationship with the patient. By listening to what worked and didn’t for her, taking the time to get to know the patient, and establishing what her actual goals were, Liz was able to find ways to make her become more invested in her own health. Once Liz discovered that the patient didn’t have a phone and was unable to read, she was able to arrange a much better care system for the patient’s obstacles.
After nearly four decades in the field, Liz has worked in almost every type of nursing environment, including hospitals and rehab facilities. She prefers the gravity of the work she is doing now with CCA, out of Charlestown. “I think this is the biggest job I’ve ever had,” she says.
In the field, Liz faces a series of socioeconomic factors that directly affect the health of her patients. “Probably 70 percent of people I take care of suffer from generational poverty,” she says. They also often suffer from a wide variety of behavior and mental health issues. To overcome these obstacles, Liz uses a simple approach: she establishes trust with her patients before trying to input medical advice.
“We take care of the whole person and not just one part of them,” she says. This holistic approach has guided her success.
At home, Liz faces a different set of challenges that make every day feel just as rewarding: She takes care of the developmentally delayed daughter she adopted from the foster care system 26 years ago. This experience has only helped to shape her views of the patients she cares for on a regular basis.
Balancing her work and home life has shown Liz the importance and power of being flexible when working in the healthcare industry. “You make a plan for the day,” she says. “And you have to be willing to let it go.”
Liz would encourage anyone that is interested to enter this career track. “I wouldn’t be anything else than what I am,” she says. “This is a great field.”