Day in the Life of a Barrow Neuro-ICU Nurse: Amy Coppage

Hi, I’m Amy Coppage. I’m a certified neuroscience and certified stroke registered nurse in the Neuro-Intensive Care Unit at Barrow and have been here for nearly 22 years. No two shifts are alike in this specialty, but here’s a glimpse into a day in my work life!

I arrive for my shift at 0700, with my coffee in hand, and start with unit huddle for situational awareness. I begin by meeting with the night nurse for bedside report to ensure a smooth transfer of care for both patients. This includes a focused neuro assessment with the off-going RN.

First assessment of the day on my patients to introduce myself and assess any immediate needs. I always enjoy meeting patients and families and hearing their stories. Typically, by the end of the day, I’m invited to join family dinner when the patient is discharged.

Expediting medication orders to facilitate postoperative pain control is one of many aspects to caring for patients at the bedside. This involves working closely with our unit pharmacist. Who wouldn’t want a pharmacist in their back pocket?

As I draw blood, I explain to the patient that these labs will help in finding a diagnosis as to what brought her to the Neuro-ICU.

After collecting the sample, I place it into the tube system. This machine then delivers the sample to the lab through a vacuum tube—similar to what banks use for their drive-thrus. This allows for safe and efficient transport of biospecimens.

Close communication with our lab helps in collecting results in an acceptable amount of time. I called the lab to be certain the blood that was drawn was also received.

I also routinely monitor patients’ vital signs throughout their care as well as assess and prevent any possible postoperative complications.

While I’d rather be at the bedside than on the computer, maintaining accurate charts is a crucial part of patient care.

I never stop moving, but that’s how I prefer it. In fact, try and catch me if you can! When I have the time, I might head down to the hospital Starbucks for a treat. I’m definitely a “take the stairs DOWN” kind of person! Elevator on the way up.

Ruthie has been taking my order since she’s been working at Starbucks. She knows what I want before I say a word. As a matter of fact, Ruthie knows everyone’s order; she’s amazing!

Then it’s back to the Neuro-ICU, where I continue to provide bedside care until my shift ends around 1930. I tidy up my work space for the oncoming RN, setting them up for a great shift.

I run into staff all around the hospital and, of course, my boys are always the subject of conversation. Here, I show an IR colleague a picture of my 14-year-old, who is 6 feet tall.

I love where I am in my career; NICU is a tough place to be. I have a strong team that stands right beside me through the good times and bad, laughter and tears. I wouldn’t have it any other way!