When Norma Liburd, RN-BC, MN, was 10 years old, she was hospitalized for nearly a week with pneumonia. With Liburd in an isolation room, “a great big ward,” as she describes it, her parents were only allowed to visit once or twice each day, and, when they came, they were shrouded from head to toe. “I just remember being so scared and so alone,” Liburd reflects.
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Explore This IssueJune 2011
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The experience would have been difficult for any young child, but Liburd fortunately had made a friend in the hospital who helped her through the experience: a nurse.
“There was this one nurse who was amazing. She would come and see me, even when she did not have to, and bring me things to do, and she talked and explained things to me. I thought, ‘If I ever get out of this place, when I grow up I will become a nurse,’” Liburd says.
Fulfilling her youthful aspiration, Liburd currently works as a clinical nurse specialist at All Children’s Pediatric Rheumatology in St. Petersburg, Fla. In 2009, Liburd’s work at All Children’s earned her the nationally awarded “Daisy Award for Extraordinary Nurses” in recognition of outstanding nursing care.
Patient Care a Key Part of Most Days
Although Liburd claims there is no “typical” day in her life, one consistency is four days (two full and two half) of clinics. During these days, Liburd visits patients and families, seeking to improve education and assess her patients’ school performance.
“These diseases impact [patients’] performance in school,” Liburd says. “We have to write letters to the school so that it understands what some of their special needs are. I identify their needs and make modifications to their school day so they can reach their educational goals.” Occasionally, Liburd will attend a patient’s school and meet with faculty to address a specific child’s needs.
For patients who were struggling with their treatments—whether they were consistently late for appointments or unaware of their medication regimen—Liburd designed a positive-reinforcement agenda called the “Rheum Service Credit Program.” The program offers “points” to patients who arrive on time to their appointments, recite their required medications, receive infusions, and cooperate with staff. At 25 points, the patients are offered a $10 gift card.
“It’s a really popular program. The kids love it and always come in asking how many points they have,” she says.
Liburd’s regular duties also include triaging the 70–80 new patient referrals her hospital normally receives each month as well as assisting the registered nurse to authorize medications, obtain refills, and develop handouts. In particular, Liburd emphasized the importance of handouts to increase patient and family education.