Lauren Skinner, RN, Grady Memorial Hospital

AJC Celebrating Nurses honoree: Lauren Skinner, RN, Grady Memorial Hospital

Lauren Skinner never wanted to be a nurse.

“I always knew I was going to do something in the sciences,” said the 12-year nursing veteran who currently works in the burn unit and surgical trauma ICU at Atlanta’s Grady Memorial Hospital.

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Skinner started studying neuroscience at Emory University in 1998 and dabbled in behavioral primatology and electrophysiology. She graduated in 2002 with the intent of pursuing a neuroscience Ph.D.

But a trip to the hospital with gastrointestinal problems changed Skinner’s course. One of her nurses suggested Skinner might be there looking for drugs.

“She left me crying, afraid, and in pain,” Skinner said. “To this day, it is a traumatic memory.”

By the next day, she’d decided that she “could be an amazing nurse” and that she “would do everything in my power to make sure my patients never felt the way I did.”

Skinner graduated from the accelerated nursing program at Georgia State University in 2007 while working fulltime.

“I have never once regretted my decision,” she said. “Twelve years later, I still love my job.”

Skinner, who is certified in neuroscience nursing, critical care nursing, and trauma nursing, said her passion is critical care and, specifically, trauma.

“It’s fast. It’s complicated, and early intervention saves lives,” Skinner said. “And if you want to work critical care, trauma, you come to Grady.”

Barbara McLean, an internationally known clinical nursing specialist in critical care, took Skinner under her wing at Grady.

“I’ve learned more, experienced more, and grown more as a nurse in my five years at Grady than I did in my previous seven put together,” Skinner said. “I say: ‘When I grow up, I want to be Barbara.’”

Skinner has traveled twice to Africa, once with McLean, to volunteer with a non-profit that provides medical care to underserved communities and sees up to 500 patients a day.

Neil Skinner said wife Lauren is an “outstanding example of the profession.”

She’s there for the patients – once helping buy an electric wheelchair for a paraplegic who could not afford one – and for families – spending many hours over several weeks with the grieving loved ones of a critically injured woman, he said.

“She is widely respected in the workplace for her tireless dedication, breadth of knowledge, and genuine compassion,” husband Neil said.