CAREERS IN NURSING
FULL HOUSE: NURSE RELISHES HOUSE SUPERVISOR ROLE
by James Coburn – Writer/Photographer
A lot of challenges come with Kim Brewer’s role as clinical manager of patient care services at Integris Southwest Medical Center.
For starters nearly every time her phone rings the person on the end of the line has either a problem or an urgent need.
Then there’s the fact she’s charged with staffing a hospital that year in and year out boasts one of the busiest ER’s in the state.
But the funny thing is, Brewer doesn’t even bat an eye.
“We don’t even consider them challenges. It’s just part of the job,” Brewer said. “If there’s something we can figure out or we can help them with to help the bedside nurse spend more time at the bedside then we’re doing our job. We deal with all the deaths and that’s tough but our role is to help the family. We can’t change the outcome of what happened but if we can make it a little easier on the family then that’s what our job is.”
Maybe that’s why she’s so good at what she does.
Brewer has been with Integris since 2004, coming to the health system via the nurse extern program when it first began.
A student at OSU-OKC at the time, Brewer spent her first year at Baptist as an extern and then transferred to the ICU once she got her RN license. There she spent six years before transferring full-time to house supervisor.
In 2014 Brewer became lead house supervisor. With Lara Teague, RN, moving to Integris Canadian Valley Hospital, Brewer moved into the clinical manager position of patient care services.
It’s a role that often gets questions, much like her job as lead house supervisor.
“A lot of times you have to explain what that job is because they don’t understand what a house supervisor does,” Brewer said. “You’re the head mom.”
And this mom has a very large family.
“It’s about developing relationships and developing trust between all the nurses and it’s not just nurses it’s all the staff,” Brewer said. “We don’t always know the answer but we know how to find the answer and those relationships are how we know who to call.”
“It takes a long time” (to develop those relationships).
Brewer credits great mentors with her longevity.
She still points to the externship program as the launching pad of her career. Her externship was in the ICU downstairs of where she works now.
That summer of 2004 was filled with a lot of white knuckle moments for Brewer.
“It was scary. I was a baby,” Brewer said. “I still remember the name of the very first patient I had who died.”
“I fell in love here. I fell in love with critical care. I never thought I would want to leave there until I saw (former Clinical Director) Tela Brown. I saw what Tela did and I thought ‘I want to be Tela when I grow up.”
The last couple of months at Integris Southwest has seen high census. Just taking over the role, Brewer said she’s still trying to keep her head above water.
“It’s kind of always crazy until about May or June we’ll start to hit a lull and then we’ll hit right back up by the end of September,” Brewer said. “Honestly, the last couple of years it’s been pretty steady. We’re as full as we’ve been and we’re trying to keep our E.R. from holding.”
“That’s probably the biggest job as the house supervisor is maintaining throughout the hospital so everybody is moving.”
And even though it’s a large hospital that has deep ties to the community, it’s not too big for nurses.
“This hospital is small enough that if you work hard enough you can get to know everybody’s name on your shift but we’re still big enough that you get to see really cool stuff,” Brewer said. “That’s probably what I love the most about South. What I love the most about this department is seeing the big picture. You don’t get that opportunity other places because you’re in your unit.”
Springtime brings added duties for people like Brewer.
It takes a village to manage that and we’re kind of in the center of that,” Brewer said. “We work with housekeeping, maintenance, engineering, the safety guys and… the disaster specialist. We work with every department as far as disaster planning.
“I’m proud of the well-oiled machine.”
In times of storms the hospital experiences an influx of community anywhere from 500 to 2,000 people will show up on Brewer’s doorstep.
It’s like herding cats – literally.
“They come with pets, dogs, cats, rabbits, snakes. We had a goat once,” Brewer said. “It’s crazy.”