Nurses Week is a yearly celebration beginning on May 6th and ending on May 12th that honors the nursing profession. This year, we’re celebrating each day by turning the spotlight on one of our very own healthcare heroes! Read on to learn more about Joan Cloutier, RN.
I have been an ER nurse for 28 years. I started my career in Detroit, then spent 15 years in my now permanent home of Traverse City, Michigan. The area has often been referred to as God’s Country.
After working in the same hospital for 15 years, I decided I really wanted to travel. What better way then to choose where and when I could work, while enjoying new places.
I started traveling in 2017, where my first and favorite assignment was. I worked 10 months in Anchorage, Alaska at the Native Hospital. This was the one place I could enjoy all the things I love. The outdoors, fishing, and flying. I got my pilot’s license while I was in Nursing School in 1993. This was quite the accomplishment and next to becoming a nurse, is certainly my most favorite. I was able to fly, fish, and even pan for gold. I’m still working, so the panning thing isn’t that easy. I did, however, send home almost 2,000 lbs of fish that year.
I have a few secret talents. First, is playing guitar and singing, which I did for a living before becoming a nurse. I spent many years entertaining people. Now, I get to do it with my patients. Not signing or playing, but using humor and kindness to help my patients cope or deal with their situation. I have looked at life by one of my favorite sayings from the movie Aunt Mame, “Life is a banquet and more poor suckers are starving to death”. I have never starved.
My whole career has been in and of itself, a large a source of pride. Going in and caring for patients makes each day an adventure, most of all in the ER.
I’ve been flying in Alaska and landed on Denali at 7,000 feet and 11,000 feet in a single engine airplane. What a thrill! I’ve enjoyed winter in the south and the north in summer. I’ve eaten whale blubber (I don’t recommend this, it tasted like an old tennis shoe.) I’ve eaten the best Cajun food you can imagine, met people from all over the world, and made many friends along the way.
Traits needed to be a Nurse? Patience, kindness, and the ability to shake off the crisis you just came through and not take it into the next room you enter.
The pandemic has been a challenge for every nurse. I have made crisis pay and have been unemployed all in the same month. When the pandemic got into the 4th month, ER’s started to be come more and more empty in many places. Many travelers got job offers only to be cancelled within 48 hours. It was trying. PPE was limited, and panic seemed to rule the day. I hope we never have another in my lifetime.
I love to precept new grads. I teach them that they now have “a license to learn.” This was told to me the day I got my pilot’s license and I live by it daily. 28 years and there has not been a day where I didn’t learn something new. One of my favorite quotes is “look for learning, seek it out.” Most importantly, do not be the nurse who “eats their young.” Help cultivate the next group of nurses.
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