From the time she was a child, Shari Braun, RN, MN, CEN, knew that she wanted to be a nurse. She felt she had a calling and she followed her instincts. Today, Shari is assistant nurse manager in the Emergency Department (ED) at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles. Shari has been an ED nurse for 18 years—all of them at Cedars-Sinai. She describes her job as being “a lot like an air traffic controller.” It’s all about triaging and getting patients where they need to be, directing ambulances on where to go, policing questions about assignments, and problem solving. “Every day will present some problem that you’ve never seen before and probably will never see again that you’re called on to solve,” she explains.
Shari didn’t start out in the ED. Before joining Cedars-Sinai, she had worked on an intensive care unit. When she moved to Los Angeles, Cedars-Sinai offered Shari a float nurse position where she was sometimes assigned to the ED. Eventually, the ED offered her a permanent assignment and she never left. After about a year and a half, she became a charge nurse and then assistant nurse manager.
Shari likes the variety and unpredictability of ED nursing, especially because “it’s never the same from one day to the next, and you’ve never seen it all.” She also likes the intensive team experience that the ED offers and believes that nurses who work in the ED need to enjoy working with other people. “We have an interdisciplinary team approach here,” she says. “We work as a group to do the workups and stabilize the patient, and we help and support each other.”
Shari was nominated by Rebekah Child, her nurse educator. When Rebekah started in the Cedars-Sinai ED as a graduate nurse, Shari was her mentor and supervisor. Since then, Rebekah has earned a PhD, and she and Shari have grown to be coworkers and peers.
Rebekah could see that Shari exhibits the qualities of the Achiever—the nurse whose seemingly endless knowledge and skill lets her deftly tackle task after task. Rebekah describes Shari as a “super nurse” and says that is not uncommon to see her pushing a patient on a gurney to an imaging study while answering the charge nurse cell phone and simultaneously fielding patient and staff questions. Shari is known for her deep empathy, her ability to solve any problem presented to her, and for never losing the critical thinking edge that makes her an exceptional nurse.
Keep Calm and Carry On
Despite the chaos and pressure in the ED, nothing chips away at Shari’s “in control” demeanor. The patient census could be reaching an all-time peak and Shari still smiles and carries on, always bringing an air of control and confidence to her surroundings. The ED environment can be high-pressure, loud, and chaotic—a place where any situation could easily spiral out of control. Shari believes that “if you remain calm, the staff feels a sense of calm as well.”
Rebekah clearly chose the right category for Shari’s nomination. On the award plaque that now hangs in Shari’s office is a picture of a nurse juggling many objects. “That’s exactly what my job is like,” Shari says. “It’s multitasking on a massive scale.”
Shari acknowledges that it’s not always easy: “Everybody has hard days at work when you wonder if you chose the right career. Am I really helping people?” Being recognized with this award has renewed her spirit and made her feel even stronger about her career choice. “It makes you feel proud to be a nurse,” she says.
Shari was on vacation in Washington State when Rebekah called to tell her that she had been nominated. “When I learned that I was one of the finalists, I was really excited,” she says. Whether I won or not, I was really honored that Rebekah thought that much of me.”
Being a Good Nurse Leader
Shari aspires to the qualities that she believes make a nurse a good leader. Being a good listener is most important. Equally important is setting high standards while having an appreciation for coworkers so they have a sense of their importance and their contribution.
To keep her nursing skills sharp, Shari takes advantage of the resources that working at large research hospital such as Cedars-Sinai affords. Cedars-Sinai supports continuing education and offers tuition reimbursement to nurses earning BSNs and advanced degrees. Cedars-Sinai nurses have opportunities to participate in research and take advantage of evidence-based practices in terms of influencing care, including using emerging technology. For example, it is rare for a physician to insert a central line now because nurses have become skilled at inserting them using ultrasound guidance.
In addition to Shari’s certification as an emergency nurse, she maintains a certification as a mobile intensive care nurse (MICN), an expanded nursing role that allows her to give paramedics patient orders and direct them to the appropriate destination. MICN certification requires 48 hours of additional CEUs every two years.
To juggle all of her responsibilities, Shari brings the same sense of achievement to her personal life as she does her professional role. To focus her off-work energy so she can come back to work refreshed, Shari is a marathon runner and enjoys gardening and getting together with her friends. “It’s really key that you enjoy going to work, but then you need something to look forward to when you’re not at work,” she says. Obviously, it’s working for her.