Congratulations to the winner of the Sherry Taxer Professional Development Scholarship
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Meg Gustafson, RN, BSN
As a hospital surgery Registered Nurse, scrubs had always been my "work outfit". On my first day as an Occupational Health Nurse for four southern Oregon Boise Cascade lumber mills, my only concern was---what to wear? What would be professional and comfortable, and at the same time send a message of credibility to the employees and administration? I did what other "in the field" nurse would do. I dressed for success and then covered my outfit up with a bright white starched lab coat--the mid-calf, ¾ length sleeves, starched, pressed and very white lab coat—the lapel of which was showing off my shiny nursing pins. Next came the third layer, a bright orange safety vest, followed by safety goggles, earplugs and I even threw on my stethoscope for good measure. I was ready. I was confident. It was summer...and by 10am, my safety goggles were covered in steam and by noon I considered stripping down to the minimal OSHA requirements (ear plugs, orange vest and goggles only). By 2pm I had melted onto the cement floor in the middle of the mill.
Welcome to Occupational Health nursing! My fist year was an amazing journey of listening, connecting and being human. After so many years in the air-conditioned hospital setting with lab coats, surgical masks and scrubs, I can say I am finally at home in the occupational health setting. Professionally I want to be the best that I can be. Each day I am more in awe of the industrial athlete and the physical work force. I came from a surgical background where "Hyster" meant hysterectomy, not a yellow fork lift truck. After three years of gleaning information from everywhere, I want to take my occupational nursing to the next level. I have followed physical therapists, studied splinters, and scoured the internet. I have been a listener, a health coach, an advocate and an empathizer. I met with another Occupational Health Nurse and we traded secrets. I devoured an orthopedic book with assessment techniques. I learned to really listen and reflect. My medical history questions have blossomed.
Professionally I now would like to obtain my COHN-S certification and learn the theory behind the practice. I am confident that obtaining my COHN-S will enable me to become the best occupational nurse that I can be. For the employees and administration I am working for. It will enable time to network before and after receiving my certification with other COHN-S RNs to share what works for me in my practice and learn what works for them. Presently I have two children in college and the Sherry Taxer Professional Development Scholarship would not only help defray costs associated with takin the COHN-S test—getting books, testing fees, review time, time off for test taking—but it would make the process so much smother. My pursuit of professional development would be validated, and obtaining my COHN-S will set my career on fire! Thank you for considering me.