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Traveler Goes From Priesthood to Patient Care to High-Tech Nursing With a ‘COW’

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By Julie Benn, contributor

Once upon a time there was a young man studying to become a priest in a 4-year seminary college. A few years later, he wanted to become a doctor. Today Christopher Freedman is a registered nurse and as happy as he can be in the career he chose and stuck to.

Freedman, 42, came into nursing later in life. After finding out that the priesthood was not for him and that medical school took too many years of study, he settled on nursing and discovered that this is really what he thought medicine was all about in the first place.

“Doctors see patients for five or 10 minutes, but nurses are there for the entire shift—there is time to build relationships and really care for them.”

Freedman admitted that nursing didn’t come easy for him. It was like a type of boot camp and he really had to work at it. He said the average age in his class was 38 years old. “For instance, one 50-year-old man whose wife died was also a nursing student in my class.”

Today, he is not only working as a Telemetry nurse but also getting all kinds of experience as a travel nurse with leading travel staffing company NursesRx. A good part of that experience comes from the hands-on, high-tech systems at some of the country’s most progressive hospitals.

The computerized charting system used at the hospital at which Freedman is on assignment with in Seattle is called CERNER. The computers running CERNER are portable and called a Computer On Wheels (COW). “The COW makes my job 100 percent easier,” Freedman said. “We just roll it with us from room to room and chart as we go,” explained Chris. He said that 99 percent of the charting is done in CERNER.   

“This is the first system I have used that has one-click charting for medications given,” said Freedman. “A lot of hospitals struggle with deciphering written and verbal orders. Computerizing it takes away all of the confusion. We can contact the doctor and, within an hour or two, a message saying the medication is ready pops up on the screen.”

Freedman said although it takes a huge commitment on the medical side to get started, CERNER makes it a lot less work for the staff in the long run. “There are no questions, no going through 20 pages of orders or deciphering writing. This accuracy makes it safer for the patient as well.”

As for accuracy, Freedman himself strives to be as precise as he can be when he arrives for a new assignment. “Every time I take a new job, I write down a very detailed list of how to get to the hospital and what to do once I get there. I put my list on top of my clipboard and follow it.  My first note was very basic and started with 1, breathe, 2, get chart, 3, ask doctor questions, and so on.” He said this goes a long way in helping him feel comfortable at his assignments.

His main advice for travelers is to get a good recruiter. “The first recruiter that called me sounded like Marge Simpson’s sister. With a gruff voice she said, ‘Ya wanna work for me?’ I said, ‘Ah, no thanks.’ ”

Other recruiters called him but kept getting his specialty wrong and wanting to place him in jobs that weren’t suited for him. With NursesRx, his recruiter was the first person to call him and be up front with him about potential jobs. “Honesty makes a big difference in this business. I don’t have a lot of surprises and if I do have any problems, she takes care of them right away.”

© 2006. AMN Healthcare, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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