Ever since I knew I wanted to pursue a career Nursing, I always said I would like to be a Nurse like carol Hathaway (ER fans would know) and at one point I wanted to be the Christina Yang of Nursing then I thought maybe I need to be the Meredith Grey of Nursing since she has a Harper Avery award. I know, I know all these are fictional characters but there’s one Nurse that I’ve had the privilege to work with that is the perfect combination of all 3 of these women. She’s fierce and really good at her job and is very family oriented which is a plus for me; with her busy work schedule she always finds the time to be superwoman to her children and husband. This month’s feature is my Charge Nurse in the PICU, someone whose presence brings me joy when I’m at work, She is also a very good teacher to the novice nurses.
Tell me about yourself.
My name is Pamela Zellner. I have been married to my husband, Jason, for 15 years, and we have two precious children, Dylan who is 12 and Megan who is 9. I have been a nurse for 16 years and I have spent my entire career in the Pediatric ICU at The Children’s Hospital in Macon, GA. My hobbies include reading, running, traveling, and eating chocolate. Jesus Christ is my very best friend and I love the life He has given me!
Why did you become a nurse?
I became a nurse because I love children and I wanted a career where I could serve people, especially kids.
When did you realize nursing was your calling?
I think I’ve always known deep down that I wanted to be a nurse. I was never the kid that wanted to be a teacher or anything like that. I knew I wanted to work with kids and that I wanted to be in the medical field. When I was in 5th grade and my grandfather was lying in a hospital bed dying, I kept wiping his face with a cool rag over and over. I remember his nurse telling me that I would make a good nurse. That always stuck with me so if I had to choose one moment where I knew nursing was my calling, I would definitely choose that one.
What specialty and where are you working now?
I started my nursing career in 2002 in the Pediatric ICU at The Children’s Hospital. After 16 years, I am still here. I have worked night shift all 16 years, and I wouldn’t have it any other way! I love my job and the amazing nurses, doctors, techs, MR’s, and respiratory therapists that I’ve had the privilege of working with over the years.
List the 5 most interesting things about your specialty.
- We are located in Macon, GA but we serve a much larger population. We get patients from all over Central and South Georgia. We’re located right off I-75 so we also get many patients from out of state who are traveling through the area.
- Our patients range from newborn babies who have gone home and then get sick to teenagers, to sometimes adult patients who have pediatric disorders and are still followed by pediatric doctors. We also get a lot of what we call NNICU grads, babies who have spent many months in the NNICU but aren’t ready to go home, so they graduate to the PICU.
- We have amazing teamwork in the PICU!!! Our intensive care doctors are amazing and actually listen to nurses and take our advice about patients. We call most of them by their first names!
- We love to have fun in our unit! It’s not uncommon to find us having a breakout dance party in the middle of the unit.
- We have many patients that “live” in the PICU and we enjoy being their “fake Mama’s” when their families can’t be there. We really do love the patients like they’re our own!!!
What was your biggest obstacle in nursing/nursing school?
My biggest obstacle in nursing has been sticking it out during the hard times. There have been many times during my 16 years where we’ve had a lot of staff turnover. It’s very frustrating to work so hard to train nurses to just have them quit soon after.
What is the #1 thing you wish you had been told as a nursing student?
The #1 thing I wish I had been told as a nursing student is that no matter how much you study in nursing school, no matter how much clinical time you have, you never really learn how to be a nurse until you start working as an actual nurse.
Can you tell us what was your experience as a novice nurse? Do you have any advice/tips for prospective nurses as well as the novice nurse?
I had a great experience as a novice nurse. My co-workers were very helpful and supportive of me as I learned to make it on my own. My advice for novice nurses is to ask questions!!!! You will never know it all so please don’t hesitate to ask questions…there are no dumb ones!