Meet Courtney: Finding Inspiration in the Teeniest of Tiny Patients

After a series of clinical rotations at Connecticut Children’s, Courtney didn’t just know mentally it was the right place for her to start her nursing career – it felt like the right place, too. Three and a half years later, she continues to grow and evolve as a nurse. And that gut instinct that drew her to Connecticut Children’s? Right on target. Each day she continues to feel ­­her connection to Connecticut Children’s, her teammates, and her patients only gets stronger.

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Name: Courtney Conlan

Role: Nurse, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit & Transport

Time at Connecticut Children’s: 3 ½ years

Nursing Experience: 3 ½ years

 

What are the advantages of working in Connecticut’s only health system dedicated to children?

It sounds cliché, but it’s all about the kids. Everything that you see, the people you interact with – it’s all about the kids and making them feel comfortable and welcomed. It’s funny, there’s a tunnel that connects our NICU in the adult hospital next door to Connecticut Children’s and as soon as you walk through the doors, you see the painted walls and friendly faces and know right away where you are.

WORKING WITH KIDS

What’s the most rewarding part of being a pediatric nurse?

Taking care of little miracles every day. The NICU is such a special place to work and the babies are so fragile and so sick. Babies can’t talk to you, but when you take care of them for months you really do bond with them. I know if they’re having a bad day or if something might be wrong, which gives me the opportunity to advocate for them. There’s no greater joy than seeing a family walk out of the unit with their baby in a car seat and know that I played a role in that baby’s life as a nurse.

What drew you into Connecticut Children’s?

In nursing school, I had clinical rotations here on the Med-Surg floors and in the operating room and all the nurses wanted to help me learn and helped teach me and grow as a nurse. Everyone was so welcoming and so warm and it was an environment where I knew I wanted to start my nursing career.

Courtney Conlan, Nurse at Connecticut Children's

LIFE IN THE NICU

What’s it like working in the NICU?

Working in the NICU means being flexible and taking on different nursing roles. You can be an ICU nurse when caring for a really sick patient, a medical surgical nurse with healthier patients, a labor and delivery nurse when you respond to high-risk deliveries, or a transport nurse when out on transport. It’s a rollercoaster. You have to approach each day with a positive attitude and know you’re making a difference in the lives of babies and their families. Seeing a baby through a long course in the NICU is just something that you can’t explain. It’s so rewarding. There’s going to be good days and bad, but they’re all worth it in the end.

What do you enjoy most as a transport nurse?

The challenge. It’s a different type of nursing. You’re more independent, you have to think creatively and use more limited resources. It’s been an opportunity that has furthered me as a nurse and grown my skill set and my confidence as an advocate. 

What is your most memorable experience so far?

I was the primary nurse for a baby born at 22 weeks and 5 days weighing under a pound. She had every statistic working against her, but we just kept pushing forward. When she was four months old, her dad asked, “Do you think she’s gonna live?” We typically get this question when babies are just a couple days old and it really struck me to realize these parents lived for four months thinking they wouldn’t bring their baby home.  I’m always hesitant to answer, but I told him, “This big, chunky girl in front of us has come a long way. I think she’s going to be able to go home.” Tears immediately filled his eyes and he just kept saying thank you. We didn’t speak the same language, but it showed that we could still come together to provide the absolute best care for this baby. And it’s just an amazing story of the work that we’re able to do each day.  

CONNECTICUT CHILDREN’S CULTURE

How would you describe the culture at Connecticut Children’s?

Teamwork, advocacy, and inspiration. So many specialties and skills and talents come together for the betterment of the child. If you’re at the bedside, it’s everyone working together to take care of a baby. And if you’re in a meeting or on a council, it’s everyone trying to improve the hospital and our patient care.

What’s special about nursing at Connecticut Children’s?

All the nurses I work with are leaders in so many different capacities.  I see nurses that jump into research projects and present at regional and national levels, nurses that say yes to things that will advance their skills even if it puts them outside their comfort zone, nurses that advocate for patients. Nurses here say yes to things to grow individually and collectively.

BENEFITS & CAREER GROWTH

Best perk or benefit?

The Tuition Reimbursement Program. Last year, I got certified in neonatal nursing and they not only paid for the exam itself, but also my review course and my review materials. It was so encouraging to know the hospital is behind me and wants me to grow.

How does Connecticut Children’s support career growth?

The opportunities to stretch yourself and grow your skills as a nurse. You just have to say yes to them and let yourself grow through them.

How do you envision your future at Connecticut Children’s?

I feel a really strong loyalty to this organization. As I look back on my past three and a half years here, I see just how much they’ve invested in me and the ways that I’ve grown as a nurse and I love the opportunity to give back to the hospital in that way. So my plan is to get my master’s in nursing leadership and to go into more of a management role within Connecticut Children’s. 

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