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After her father had extensive back surgery and spent time in the Neuro ICU at Moses Cone Health, Karen Newnam remembers thinking that she might find a nursing career rewarding. She was 14 years old at the time, but that early experience segued into an eventual Emergency Department career at Moses Cone Health.

“There are so many things I love about being an Emergency Department nurse,” Newnam said. “You never know what your day will be like. You may be saving a patient’s life in one room, giving pain medications in the next, and go to the next room and support a grieving family that just lost a loved one.”

According to Denise Rhew, the colleague who nominated her, Newnam is an exemplary team leader.

“I am nominating her because of the huge impact in care provided to our stroke patients that present to our emergency department,” said Rhew. “In addition to being a bedside nurse in the emergency department, she took the time to develop a Simulation Stroke Patient Case Scenario. Just this past December, she was a strong player in helping the hospital to become a Comprehensive Stroke Center.”

Newnam said she enjoys working in a profession that allows her to positively impact lives.

“I like the autonomy of being able to rely on my own knowledge and judgment to decide what protocols to order on a patient,” she said. “We see patients at their most vulnerable times and they depend on us to make them feel better.”

After nearly two decades as a nurse, Newnam remembers many patients that reinforce her dedication to her career.

“One of my most memorable experiences involved a patient that came in unresponsive and was likely going to die soon,” recalls Newnam. “Within two hours, she was sitting up talking with her family. The cardiologist had been in to talk with her and explained that she only had a few months to live. As she left the emergency department to go upstairs, she gave me a hug and thanked me for giving her more time with her family and especially her grandchildren. She said she was going to prove the doctor wrong because Jesus wasn’t ready for her yet.

“Often we save patients lives and they go to ICU and we never get to see them again,” Newnam said. “When you get to see a patient near death turn around quickly and they thank you for what you did for them, it makes you realize that you are right where you are supposed to be.”

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