Arm-Wrestling Alligators

Marianne Luginbuhl, BSN

Critical Care Staff Nurse, Sparrow Health System

Marianne has been in nursing for over twenty years, working mostly in trauma and critical care. She was drawn to these clinical areas for “the mix of science, people and the challenging puzzle” presented by every patient. “They are a complex mix of history, current events, and acute problems.”

Marianne feels that her primary goal is “to keep my patients alive, but also to help them return to their homes and to help their families navigate through very difficult times.”

Not all patients survive. Trauma and critical care can be a place of healing, but also one of sadness and grief. “We must be prepared for and give our best care to every patient, in every situation. “
Marianne is particularly concerned about patient safety. Many of her patients have compromised levels of consciousness and pose a threat to themselves. “They pull out their IVs, crawl out of bed, or refuse treatment. These patients are especially challenging and incidents do occur.”

She is grateful for the quality management and quality improvement process that involves collective efforts: from staff members to senior management, across departments. “While the process can be lengthy, the goal is to improve patient care and provide a safe environment; blame is not a factor.”

What would Marianne say to someone considering nursing as a career? “Nursing is often not pretty. There are many things about my work that are unpleasant: excrement, patient self-injury, death. Nursing is about setting aside attitudes and venturing into new and challenging areas of reaching. Sometimes it is like arm-wrestling alligators.”