Brandie Christian selected nursing as a second career, she said, because she wanted to make a difference in patient care.
As a nurse supervisor on the orthopedic floor at Northside Hospital Gwinnett, Christian oversees patients who didn’t expect to be there, who were thrown off their everyday routines and had many questions.
“I spend a lot of time just listening and holding their hands,” she said. “I think it’s reassuring to them to get it off their chest.”
That’s why Christian was presented with an AJC Nurse Excellence Award on Friday afternoon, after being nominated last fall. More than 800 nurses were nominated, with 10 being honored.
Nurse manager Alice Major said Christian shows compassion and dedication to her patients and employees.
“Brandie consistently goes above and beyond every day she works,” said Major, who nominated Christian.
For example, the nurse supervisor helped unite a mother, who was Christian’s patient, with the woman’s daughter, who was in intensive care.
Although she arranged to have the mom visit the ICU, Christian noticed it was too painful for the woman to see her daughter in such bad condition. So Christian made the daily visits herself — for weeks — and kept mom updated.
Once the daughter improved, Christian had her transferred to the same floor as mom. Not only did the nurse make sure the two spent time together daily, but she also helped arrange for them to go to the same rehab unit.
“The mother was beyond thankful for this gesture of kindness,” Major said.
Christian said she always tries putting herself in her patients’ situations and giving them the little extras she would want. Providing such personal care is one reason she returned to school to earn her nursing degree.
Growing up, Christian wanted to be a nurse and started working on her degree after high school. She never finished, however, and worked instead for 15 years as a corporate accountant.
“I regretted it regularly,” she said. “Every time a family member would go into the hospital, that’s where my heart was. That’s where I wanted to be.”
The turning point came when her son was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome at age 8, and doctors couldn’t assure her he would be all right. They spent two months in the hospital, with Christian wishing she had finished her nursing degree.
After that, she returned to Gwinnett Technical College to complete what she started, though she was a busy mom of three and about to turn 40.
Christian, 46, has been a Northside Gwinnett nurse for five years. She has a heart for the elderly and those struggling with addictions and mental health issues. Her job on the orthopedic floor allows her to work in these specialties.
“I was meant to be here,” she said. “It doesn’t seem like work because I love it. I love every minute of it. I hope the patients realize we’re here to help them, and it’s not just a job.”
Although Christian helps patients with dementia or who are temporarily confused because of their health, she said she makes a point to always talk to them so they can hear and understand.
She said a patient once told her, “You’re the only one who told me what was going on.”
“I think I’m on the right path and making a difference,” Christian said. “That’s really all I wanted to do — to try and change things from the inside.”
To read about and watch videos of all honorees, please visit www.ajc.com/pulse/#celebratingnurses.
Christian turned 40 while in nursing school. “Half of my class was the age of my children,” she said. “They were watching me, and I couldn’t let them see me fail.”
Initially, she wanted to specialize in geriatric nursing. “Even as a little girl, I asked my mother to drop me off at the retirement home because I wanted to talk to and care for the residents,” she said.
READ MORE ABOUT THE OTHER AWARD RECIPIENTS
Nurse leader Millie Sattler, Emory Healthcare
Terri Holden, Piedmont Cartersville Medical Center
Rita Ford, Northside Hospital Gwinnett
Kathleen LePain, Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center
Lisa Treadwell, Piedmont Eastside Medical Center
Stacey Howard, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston
Kellie Mitchell, Wellstar Paulding Hospital
Mark Lee, Emory University Hospital
Janet Rollor, Wellstar Kennestone Hospital
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