From the United States Air Force to caring for elderly patients, Elisabeth Poirier, RN has done it all.
Poirier enlisted in the USAF right out of high school, then qualified for an intelligence position with the National Security Agency. Along the way she made friends but discovered, career-wise, it wasn’t the right fit. “I wanted to put my life’s work into something I believed in, something that I could definitively say made the world a better place,” Poirier explained.
After Poirier became a civilian, she began her educational path in nursing. Looking back, she reflects “I was pretty idealistic as a young adult and didn’t realize that the opportunity to do work, that you feel good about and helps the world, is a privilege in itself.”
“the opportunity to do work that you feel good about and helps the world is a privilege in itself.”
Poirier’s first experience in nursing was doing humanitarian work during her last semester of nursing school in the country of Grenada, an island in the Caribbean. Poirier’s San Jose State University Professor had started a national public health campaign for the peoples of Grenada. They were running healthcare clinics where they provided patients head-to-toe exams, eye exams, vital signs, blood sugar checks; checked for prostate cancer, taught women how to self-examine for breast cancer, and even educated caretakers on burnout prevention. They also provided nursing care in orphanages and nursing homes.
Poirier recollects “It was an overwhelming experience. Thousands of people came out in an attempt to get healthcare from the SJSU student nurses. We ran out of our medical supplies quickly, and it felt like all we were able to provide was ourselves as witnesses to their suffering. That was one of my earliest experiences and the beginning of understanding what it means to work as a nurse.”
It felt like all we were able to provide was ourselves as witnesses to their suffering.
Poirier spent the first several years working in skilled nursing and long-term acute-care hospitals. Eventually, as is so common in nursing, Poirier burned out. During this period, she went on a road trip through Colorado with her aunt to see her cousins. One of her cousins, who had been a nurse for many years and was working as an emergency flight nurse, suggested that Poirier work with a nursing registry where she wouldn’t burn out.
When she returned to San Jose, Poirier began researching nursing registries in the area and came across NurseRegistry. “I decided to apply after reading the comments of nurses who had been with the company for several years saying it was a great work environment. Turns out they were right!” Poirier has been with NurseRegistry for three years now.
We asked Poirier what she liked most about working with NurseRegistry. “Where do I even start? I love that I have a considerable amount of control over my work schedule and work experience. I can work as much or as little as I want. If a client isn’t a good fit, NurseRegistry will re-match you. They actually care about you and your well-being. The NurseRegistry staff is friendly and swift to address any and all issues the nurse raises. There’s an abundance of work, so I’m able to work with only NurseRegistry. I highly recommend NurseRegistry to nurses looking to get back into the swing of nursing. I think the best part is that I have the opportunity to provide high-quality nursing care to one person at a time in the comfort of their own home. It’s a really good feeling at the end of your workday.”
I have the opportunity to provide high-quality nursing care to one person at a time in the comfort of their own home.
What’s Poirier’s most recent professional development interests? She uses the UptoDate app as a point-of-care resource in her nursing practice. She is also currently reading a book called Questions and Answers on Death and Dying by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. “Sounds kind of morbid, but I remember my nursing professors saying it was required reading for all nurses. I’m just now getting around to reading it, but despite it being published in 1974 the information has definitely helped me understand that side of nursing better and made me a better nurse.”
After seven years in nursing, Poirier shares her advice for new nurses, “Nursing is a great profession with good job security. Expect to be pushed to your limits and sometimes past those limits. It’s good to pay attention to where your own boundaries lay and if you end up spreading yourself too thin on a routine basis, that’s a good indication to start looking for work somewhere else. Burning out in our job is a very real thing and once it happens you are of little help to your patients, your family/friends, or yourself. It’s okay to walk away and do something else. You don’t have to be the one bearing the painful burden all of the time. Do good self-care and try to have fun. Lastly, there’s a lot of heartache in nursing so just remember everything that lives must die and that’s as natural in this life as being born.”
Burning out in our job is a very real thing and once it happens you are of little help to your patients, your family/friends, or yourself.
So how does Poirier take care of herself when she’s not nursing? Poirier likes going for long walks, talking on the phone with her family in Michigan, and cuddling her cats while listening to podcasts (like Empire Files) or watching documentaries and movies.
Poirier’s patients love her energy, enthusiasm, and high-quality care.