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Is There a Nurse in the House?

Getting Real: Nursing Today
December 12, 2016
Is There a Nurse in the House?

Medical emergencies can happen at any time. For trauma nurse Julie Stroyne Nixon, RN, BSN, her wedding night was about more than her wedding, it was about saving a life. Walking to her wedding after-party with her husband Andrew Nixon, the bride saw an unconscious woman lying on a bench nearby. Bystanders were calling for help and Stroyne, still in her wedding gown, ran to help.

“I threw my purse on the bench next to her and started my assessment,” said Stroyne Nixon. “I originally started compressions because I had heard someone say that she did not have a pulse. However, when I stopped and felt for a pulse, she did indeed have a weak, but steady pulse. I then checked her respiratory status, and she was breathing very faintly, but it grew stronger as the seconds went on.  I then tried to arouse her by shaking her shoulders and she finally started to come to.”

NN: How did your nursing training and code of ethics help you in this situation? 

Julie: I work on a trauma floor at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh, Penn., so I am used to acting in a crisis. I think that any nurse who was in my situation would have done the exact same thing. 

NN: How has this experience impacted you as a nurse?

Julie: This experience has made me become a more confident nurse and in general, more proud to be a nurse.  I have been getting wonderful feedback from my coworkers and people that I don’t even know.  I am not a person who enjoys the spotlight, but I am proud to represent all the unsung nurse heroes who do this every day.

NN: How does being a nurse prepare you for emergency off-duty situations such as this one?

Julie: In nursing school and at work, we are trained in emergency situations, such as patients going unconscious or losing a pulse.  We practice mock situations that would mimic real life emergencies. In the hospital, it is definitely a more controlled environment as all of the necessary equipment, medication, and doctors are available at a moment’s notice. However, in any situation, once a nurse, always a nurse. We are trained to constantly observe and to help patients to the fullest extent that our education provides. We are always ready to lend our knowledge and hand to someone in need.

NN: What was your biggest takeaway from this experience?

Julie: I strongly believe that things happen for a reason, and even though it was my wedding night, I was supposed to be there at that spot at that exact time.  If my husband and I would have left 10 minutes earlier, then who knows what would have happened. I didn’t catch the woman’s name, but I’m just glad that I was there to help her in that moment.    

For more information about trauma nursing, visit

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