by James Coburn – staff writer
Aaron Trina finds joy at being a registered nurse working in the post-anesthesia (PACU) unit of HPI Community Hospital North. The north Oklahoma City campus is located along the Broadway Extension near Britton Road.
Every patient is a different experience for him, each with a distinct personality and story, Trina said. He cares for multiple patients waking up throughout the day feeling the effects of anesthesia
“They ask a lot how their surgery went, usually multiple times for the first few minutes until they kind of come to (wake up) a little bit more,” Trina said. “You reassure them and encourage them that everything went well. You get to meet their needs. If they’re having any distress, you can immediately address it.” Story continues below)
Some patients wake up smiling and ready to go, he said.
Families may join them during the next phase of recovery. All instructions are provided to the family with the patient at that time to make it easier to navigate through their loved one’s recovery when discharged from the hospital. Others are more intense about their needs to remedy their pain.
Trina’s work in the PACU is supported by a team of care providers. He remains busy during the moments he is without a patient and another nurse gets one. He might grab the chart and fax the orders. He makes sure the anesthesiologists’ signatures are intact for anesthesia and gets their patients ready to go.
“So, I admire that team mentality,” he said. “We all know these tasks and we all chip in on a very short notice to help expedite and make things run smoother.”
He recommends ICU experience to nurses interested in working in a PACU. This is because patients are in a vulnerable setting when first awakened from anesthesia, especially their airways, he said.
“If they want to get a little bit of experience like that it usually makes it a lot easier to transition into a PACU setting,” he added. “Now that’s not always necessary, it just depends on the type of environment you want to work in. It definitely helps.”
His analytical nature makes his curiosity intellectual. In choosing a nursing career, Trina made a diagram of three circles divided by what he is good at (science), what he is passionate about (helping people), and what is practical (health care offers a good job and security). He looked at all three circles for the best outcome.
“Nursing was the best fit for all three of them,” he said.
Trina has a lot of experience under his belt. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree 15 years ago at Oral Roberts University, located in Tulsa. His first 10 years as a nurse was in an intensive care unit at a cancer hospital. He moved to the Oklahoma City area and has since worked in a PACU setting.
Certain memories will never be forgotten. His previous work in an ICU with cancer patients helped ease the path to terminal outcomes. A lot of the procedures were done to extend someone’s life so they could cherish a precious moment or improve their quality of life during their final years.
“I always felt that was an interesting mindset for me to go into as a nurse,” he said. “I think it helped me realize that you don’t always fix problems. Health care isn’t always about fixing problems but about making somebody’s life a little bit better for what time they have left.”
Terminally ill cancer patients wanted to live long enough to see their children or grandchildren graduate from school.
He often has conversations with his wife about what being a nurse has taught him about life. Health care eventually plays a role in every person’s life. He said being a nurse has broadened his perspective on how people think.
“Sometimes it’s easier to think that people have your mindset or perspective. That’s not inherently wrong, it’s not really true either,” he said. “When you meet all these people across the broad spectrum of the world, it makes you realize everyone is different. Everyone thinks differently. And I really appreciate that perspective (nursing) has given me — not to be narrow minded about how people see the world. There’s all kinds of people out there and they all have their own special way of bringing gifts to the world.”
Having a positive mindset is very helpful in life, he said. It’s exciting to be a nurse at Community Hospital, he said. He celebrates when new surgeons are hired because there will be something new to learn from their practices.
“It’s a great learning opportunity for me to broaden my horizons,” he said.
Utilizing his leisure time with a game of frisbee golf or regular golf helps him to energize his mind and body.
“I like taking care of my lawn. Me and my wife walk our dog a lot.”