Kimberly Ann Bagley has been in nursing for 10 years. She’s currently working as a Critical Care Nurse Practitioner at Duke Raleigh Hospital in the Medical-Surgical Intensive Care Unit at Duke Raleigh Hospital where she provides care to critically ill patients within diverse patient populations, including medical, surgical, neurological and neurosurgical, as well as oncology. She regularly performs procedures such as Intubation/Mechanical Ventilation, Arterial lines, Central lines, and Temporary Non-tunneled Dialysis central lines.
Kimberly is excited to be working with ICU nurses to assist them with ultrasound skills for peripheral IV placement. “It's an opportunity to share techniques and knowledge that I've gained over the past five years,” she said.
One of Kimberly’s favorite tricks is to ask patients/families who struggle with a patient's poor appetite and eating is "Do you like cheesecake?" It’s a trick she learned from a physician colleague. Cheesecake is nutritionally dense, with lots of protein, so even if a patient only eats a bite or two, they are maximizing what they are taking in.
Kimberly knew that she had made the right decision to become a nurse when she walked into the unit one evening for a nightshift and heard the words from the Charge Nurse, "Kim, I'm giving you this patient for a reason." She says she knew in that moment that she was needed to advocate for this critically ill patient who was mechanically supported in multiple ways (heart, lungs, kidneys) and on multiple vasopressors to maintain a blood pressure. “I knew in that moment I was in the field and career I was meant to be in,” Kimberly said.
Another experience that really stands out to Kimberly was one of her toughest. “It can be hard to separate out personal feelings and values when providing the needed support and care for patients and their families,” she said. She was taking care of patient who had a ventricular assist device (heart pump), continuous slow dialysis, mechanical ventilation, and multiple medications to keep the blood pressure high enough for adequate perfusion. Half the family felt that to take anything away was murder, and that dying on all the mechanical support was natural. The other half recognized that all the mechanical support was artificial, sustained life support, and not natural. She discovered an ability to support the family by listening to their views in a non-judgmental way.
“It was the first time I had truly been tested as a nurse in this fashion,” Kimberly said. The patient's son eventually stood at the bedside and said goodbye, reassuring that they would all be okay. Shortly after, the patient's pupils became fixed and dilated. Later, the patient died on mechanical support before support could be withdrawn. She learned that even in those times of futility in care, nature will take its course. “It's easy to say we think, but to be able to provide support in spite of our feelings is what makes nursing such a trusted field,” she said.
Kimberly wishes people knew that nursing is hard. It’s hard to take care of people and then go home and still continue to give and take of your family. It's also hard to give so much of yourself taking care of people and rarely hearing "Thank you." Unfortunately, she says, often what nurses do is taken for granted, making it a thankless job more often than not.
Before going into nursing, Kimberly worked as a licensed massage therapist. She had a regular client who was misdiagnosed by her physician. The client had bone metastasis from breast cancer, not the sacral arthritis originally diagnosed. After months of not seeing the client, the moment she could walk from the door to the car her spouse brought her at the same time/day every week to see me for a massage because it made her feel better. “I felt strongly that she needed an advocate, and nursing is known for patient advocacy. So I went to school and became a nurse,” Kimberly said.
Kimberly’s Advice for a New Nurse: As the person people often accused of being Type A, I may not be the best person to provide advice. I will say this, it is important to understand why a provider is treating a patient a certain way. It is okay if nurses don't agree, and sometimes there are disagreements. It is important to have an understanding as to why something is being done though. Asking is always okay and can show that you care enough about your patient care and profession to actively engage in learning.
“Doctors save lives. A great critical care nurse saves patients from doctors.”
NCNA thanks you for being a part of our community and for your passion for nursing, Kimberly!
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