A day in the life of a nurse at Wisconsin Poison Center
"Hello, this is Lori, RN, at Wisconsin Poison Center. How can I help you?"
Thus begins another call to Wisconsin's only poison center. Wisconsin Poison Center handles poison-related calls from across the state 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
My name is Lori Uelner and I'm a nurse at the Poison Center. When I began in 2002, I thought I would try something new and maybe learn something interesting along the way. I didn't realize just how challenged I would be, or how much responsibility I'd be given here.
The feelings of satisfaction and accomplishment that I feel when I have calmed a frantic mother or given treatment guidelines for an overdose patient to an emergency room nurse cannot be paralleled. There is never a dull moment, and every call can be an opportunity for a nurse to teach as well as learn.
Although a toxicologist is available to assist Poison Center nursing staff, we are given full responsibility for managing calls using approved treatment guidelines and exceptional nursing judgment skills. No two calls to the center are ever the same. I have to be ready to make appropriate decisions independently.
Currently, the Poison Center employs seven Certified Specialists in Poison Information or CSPIs. We can handle a variety of cases because as CSPIs, we have been highly trained and have a broad depth of knowledge in toxicology. For me, passing this exam was one of the most satisfying moments I have experienced as a nurse.
Work-life balance is important at the Poison Center. Recently, we began piloting home work stations, which allows me to do my job while working from home. I easily can take on shifts when I'm needed. Having a home work station also allowed me to continue working while recovering from a recent foot surgery.
I feel so fortunate in my role as a nurse at the Poison Center for many reasons, but the most important is my commitment to the callers I serve.
Wisconsin Poison Center is a member of Children's Hospital and Health System, and staff are employed by the health system. If you're interested in working at the Poison Center, apply online (note: you will be leaving the Poison Center Web site).