CRG is proud of its nursing staff, which works hard to help our medical providers deliver high-quality care to our patients. One of those nurses, Tammy Knight, recently talked with CRG psychologist Dr. Julie Steck about how her professional experiences at and outside of CRG have informed each other over the years.
JS: Tammy, now many years have you been a nurse?
TK: A long time; 36 years. I started nursing in 1980.
JS: What types of jobs have you had since 1980?
TK: I started out as a Medical Surgical nurse, working with surgeries in the area of gynecology. I then worked in Utilization Review for an HMO and then moved to Utilization Review for a hospital. When our children were born, I was primarily a stay-at-home mother and did a lot of volunteering for their schools. When our children started high school, I began volunteering in the nurses’ office at the high school. When there was a position open for a nurse, I applied for the job. I then worked part-time as a nurse in the high school for 10 years.
JS: What types of issues did you deal with as a school nurse?
TK: When I first started as a school nurse, it seemed that I dealt with fairly routine medical issues such as sore throats, stomachaches, and headaches. But over time, we saw an increase in the number of mental health issues including suicidal thoughts, cutting and other self-injurious behaviors, and addiction issues.
JS: How long have you been at CRG and how did your work at CRG impact your work at the high school?
TK: I have been at CRG for about five years. Through my work as a nurse at CRG, I became more aware of the terminology used in mental health and of the resources available in the community. I became more comfortable talking with students about their mental health issues.
JS: And what did you learn at the high school that helped in your role as a nurse at CRG?
TK: From my time at the high school, I learned to talk with parents about their child’s needs. I learned to say, “I’m putting on my mom hat. If this were my kid, I would ____.”
Sometimes, that is what we all need. We need a person who has multiple perspectives on parenting and meeting a child’s or adolescent’s needs and the wisdom to break it down for us. Thanks to Tammy Knight and our other nurses at CRG who do that for our patients with kindness and compassion day in and day out. And thanks to school nurses across the state of Indiana who care for the cuts, scrapes and minor medical issues our children face and for listening to and attending to their more serious mental health needs, too. They are often the first line of defense in identifying patterns of maladaptive behaviors and somatic symptoms of stress that call for professional assistance.