You are currently viewing Julie Liston, Helena Heart Clinic |

Julie Liston, Helena Heart Clinic |

Current position: Head Nurse

Why did you become a nurse?

My mom is a nurse and I grew up with everyone asking me if I was going to be a nurse, and I always said, ‘Oh no, there’s no way I could do that.’ I got my bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. And I found that with that and a quarter, you can get a cup of coffee almost anywhere, but not much else. So after doing odd part-time jobs just to pay the rent, I took stock of my talents and my gifts and decided to go back to nursing school. I get my energy from helping people. It sounds a bit corny, but that’s where I feel the best, is when I feel like I’m serving others and helping them. My mother was a great role model, and I feel blessed to have had her as my mother and my role model for nursing.

What has been one of your most memorable nursing experiences?

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I also worked in the cath lab at St. Peter’s Hospital for five years, and one of my most memorable moments or feelings while there is when a patient says to me, “Oh Julie, you made things so much easier when you were with me. When patients tell me that I make them more comfortable or that I make a process easier for them or more understandable, it’s memorable for me. This is my nursing reward.

What skills are most important for nurses?

Empathy. All of these life skills are super important, but you also have to have a great scientific mind. I always tell patients now, when I do all my stuff in the office, they say, “Wow, you must be an electrician.” I say I have to be an electrician, plumber, computer engineer, you have to have great computer skills. Nursing school surprised me in terms of how many science classes you have to take for one thing. So you have to have a very strong scientific mind, but you have to be able to combine that with a lot of social and psychological skills to help patients through some of their toughest times – some of their toughest times.

What’s the best advice you can give?

Nursing offers such great opportunities to people that you just have to be ready to say yes. Be brave and go out there and do it, because it’s so rewarding. But be flexible. You have to be able to change in the moment or react in a crisis or help someone through a tough time when they start telling you about their dog who just died or their mother who just died or both in the same week and now they’ve got their own health care crisis and it’s difficult. So you have to be ready to be flexible and change gears quickly. But my advice is if you feel like doing it, for people considering a career as a nurse, absolutely do it. Because you can do so many different things in nursing, from oncology nursing, palliative care, medical-surgical nursing to critical care and emergency care. The possibilities are limitless. Take the opportunity. Seize the day.

What does it take to be a nurse in these trying times?

Patience and flexibility. Covid I think has really stressed the group of nurses working in the profession, and I guess perseverance. There are many things, but these are the most important. But also remember to take care of yourself. It’s one of the hardest things we do as nurses. We spend so much time taking care of others that we forget to take care of ourselves.

Nursing is a super rewarding career. I am so proud to be part of the nursing profession. I can’t think of any other profession that allows you to be so close to others at such crucial times in their lives and can make such a big difference to them, have a huge positive impact on others. And it’s challenging and rewarding and it’s difficult and it’s wonderful and it’s frustrating. It covers the full range of emotions. It’s just very rewarding and I’ve been proud and happy to be a part of it for all these years and I hope that many new nurses will join us so that those of us who have worked for 30 years can say it’s good to some indicate.

Nominated by Sumner Sharpe

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