Putting Her Nursing Skills to the Test
Edie Nguyen (full name: Kieu-Mi Nguyen) graduated from Ameritech College of Healthcare with an Associate Degree in Nursing in May of 2018. But before she had a chance to walk across the stage during her graduation ceremony, everything she learned during her 20-months in nursing school was put to the test in the most unusual of circumstances.
Days after finishing her nursing program, Edie was flying back home to Salt Lake City after visiting her cousin in New York. After 20 minutes in the air, the Delta Airlines’ flight attendant asked for a medical professional on the plane over the intercom.
Edie remembers, “I didn’t say anything. I literally just graduated. I figured there’s a million nurses in the world, so there ought to be one on this flight, who has actually worked as a nurse.” However, after realizing that no one was volunteering to help, she told the flight attendant that she just finished nursing school 6 days ago, but she will try her best to help. The flight attended agreed.
When Edie first saw the passenger that needed help, she was unconscious and soaked in her own sweat. Edie asked the flight attendant for any medical supplies they might have onboard and oxygen. She performed a full assessment on the passenger, took her vitals, elevated her legs, took off her heavy jacket, put some cold wash clothes over her entire body to cool her off and applied oxygen to her face. Edie got help from an CNA (whose name she never got due to all the commotion) that was on the flight, and they worked together to try and diagnose the patient. After asking her husband a few questions, Edie was finally able to get a clear understanding as to why the passenger lost consciousness. The passenger had a history of hypotension, and when she went to place her bag under her seat and came back up, she passed out. Factor in a day and a half of flying into that, and she was exhausted and overheated.
Due to the airline policy, the flight crew gave Edie and the CNA only 15 minutes to have the passenger fully alert before they would have to land the plane. With Edie’s help, the passenger was gaining consciousness little by little. Edie did a neuro assessment on her every 2 to 3 minutes, and after about 8 minutes she could correctly tell Edie who she was. Edie decided to sit with her patient for the remainder of the flight. She kept her awake, leaned her against the window and elevated her feet. They became fast friends and learned a great deal about each other. Edie also learned that people are amazing. The fellow passengers came together to help – from the CNA that worked alongside Edie to other passengers offering their own medications and trying to call doctors they know for advice.
Edie says, “I know it may seem like I helped that passenger, but I feel like she actually helped me. Thank you for reminding me why I chose Nursing, and why this field is so important. Thank you for making me believe in myself and my abilities. Thank you for forcing me to step up and be confident in front of an entire plane of complete strangers, who were also frightened. Thank you for letting me help you and letting me get to know you. I’ll never finish school like this ever again – that’s for sure. What a scary experience, but I’m grateful for the outcome. What a way to start my career!”
Several days later Edie attended her graduation ceremony, transformed by this amazing experience and having a new appreciation and new confidence for an amazing nursing career that lies ahead of her. Edie currently works in Neuro Critical Care Unit at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, Utah.