Brittney Ferguson, a Patient Care Associate and perinatal bereavement advocate at Memorial Hospital West who is currently in nursing school, credits her aunt with her decision to enter the nursing field.
Brittney's aunt is still a nurse with the Memorial system who used to work in labor and delivery, and she would often take Brittney to work on "Take Your Child to Work Day." Nursing was one of the first careers Brittney experienced that appealed to her.
“When I think about it, the medical field was brought into my life because of her (my aunt) and it interested me from then on,” says Brittney.
For the last 11 years, Brittney has worked as a Patient Care Associate in the Labor and Delivery Unit. She even got to spend a couple of years working alongside her aunt. Brittney will graduate with her BSN in April 2020.
After graduation, she will apply to the Nurse Residency Program at Memorial and hopes to stay with the healthcare system once she completes her residency. Brittney credits Memorial with supporting her in the next phase of her career. Tuition reimbursements have been helpful, and she says her management team supports her schedule, so she can take the needed time off for her studies.
"They see potential in me," she says. "They've always been pushing me and finally I was ready and made the decision to go back to school."
On the job, Brittney always receives high marks on patient surveys. "I'm a people person; it's easy for me to try to build that rapport with my patients," she explains.
Brittney says she tries to think of each patient she meets as her family. In fact, she treats patients just like she would her own family members. She sees patients as individuals with their own histories and specific needs and is able to balance that with caring for them as if they were part of her family. That balance comes across in the level of care she provides.
The people she meets each day is what Brittney loves most about her job.
"The fact that I'm able to make a difference in patients’ lives, even if I only see them for 15 minutes… it’s the short conversations I may have with them or the ability to see their family members in the hallway or coming back to have another baby; those things make the PCA role special,” she says.
Brittney credits her manager Tania Bustillo and her coworkers for the role they play in meeting patient expectations. "Our unit as a whole works so well together," she says.
One of the more challenging aspects of Brittney's work is in perinatal bereavement. After a child is lost at any point during pregnancy, Brittney works alongside the nurses while they care for the mother. She provides emotional support and hands-on care for the baby after birth, giving the baby a bath, taking photos, making footprints, and putting together a memory box for the family. The baby is then handed to the family dressed in an outfit and wrapped in a baby blanket.
"It's a precious way to allow the family to hold and spend time with their baby before they say their goodbyes," she says, and even though it's difficult, Brittney sees this as an important part of the bereavement experience.
Brittney believes that Memorial West has "come a long way with bereavement" since launching a bereavement committee and attending the Rachel’s gift class and the support group meetings. By finding ways to make the situation easier for grieving parents and other family members, Brittney and other labor and delivery team members are able to provide compassionate care and initiate closure.
Soon, Brittney will move into a new role. Residency interviews take place in May and she hopes in July she'll begin the residency program. Becoming a nurse will soon be a reality for her.
“Every day is a new beginning, and I am excited about the opportunities to come,” she adds.