Thrive by IU Health

May 16, 2020

ER nurse: “Working the front line has been an honor”

IU Health Methodist Hospital

ER nurse: “Working the front line has been an honor”

Jamie Rehm began her healthcare career working as an EMT and then as an IU Health LifeLine Critical Care ALS/BLS transporter. She dreamed of becoming an emergency room nurse and two years ago, after completing her nursing degree, she joined the Emergency Department at IU Health Methodist Hospital.

By IU Health Senior Journalist T.J. Banes, tfender1@iuhealth.org

When she met the challenges of nursing school, Jamie Rehm said: “I don’t quit. Things may get tough and nursing school was definitely tough, but I don’t quit.”

She maintains the same go-getter spirit now, when two years into her career she is working the frontlines of a pandemic. Working three, 12-hour night shifts at IU Health Methodist Hospital ER, can be draining. But Rehm gains energy from her co-workers and the urgency of her job.

“I wanted to work in the ER because I love emergency medicine. I like when a patient comes in and you get to play detective about what is going on with them,” said Rehm. “We also see a lot of different symptoms in the ER, so it is a great place to learn, especially at Methodist. We get traumas and very sick people, because we have so many specialties.”

Rehm recently received a Daisy Award nomination, recognizing her extraordinary patient care. A patient wrote: “She is completely outstanding and went above and beyond for me during a painful and stressful time. She made me feel like I was her only patient. She has so much empathy. She is definitely in the right career.”

For Rehm, a graduate of Mount Vernon High School, the positive feedback was a boost to a decision she chose long ago. She comes from a long line of nurses – her mom, Lisa Rehm, grandma, Bonnie Rehm, and aunt, Karen Shaffer, all graduated with nursing degrees from IUPUI. After high school, Rehm was determined to accomplish two things: Become a nurse and complete college debt-free. She accomplished both – working two jobs throughout her college career including one as an EMT with IU Health LifeLine.

Rehm joined IU Health Lifeline in 2016 with the ground crew working both Critical Care and ALS/BLS transport. “It was the perfect job for a nursing student because while I was waiting for a run, I’d study and then I’d be learning something in class and we’d go on a run and it would become real,” said Rehm. “All the nurses, respiratory therapists, paramedics, and EMTs were so helpful in coaching me. LifeLine is so unique. It’s such a huge part of the community. It prepared me to become a nurse because it made me more comfortable with the unknown.”

She was so determined to learn that even on her days off; she requested time in the air with the LifeLine critical care flight crew. And never wanting to miss an opportunity, Rehm joined the crew for a promotion video with 500 Indy car driver James Hinchcliffe. In 2017 she was also a 500 Festival Princess.

Her first taste of the Emergency Room was working at IU Health Methodist Hospital in transplant oncology. “When I got bit by the emergency medicine bug I always knew I wanted to be at Methodist and I always knew I wanted to work in the ER,” said Rehm.

Since the beginning of COVID-19 Rehm said she continues to focus on the basics she learned in nursing school and all that she has built on through firsthand experiences.

“As nurses, we are also teachers, so I try to use my knowledge and role to educate people about the virus and the importance of hand washing and social distancing right now,” said Rehm. “We get information daily about COVID-19, which I would like to thank our managers who have done an excellent job informing us and keeping us in the loop with all of the changes. It is very overwhelming. I think I have the process down and then it changes again. I guess I just try to take it one day at a time.”

Like others who are working with very sick patients, Rehm relies on family and friends for support. As she marked her first full year as a nurse, she wrote: “What a year it has been after just completing my first year as a nurse. I never thought I’d be working the frontlines in a pandemic, but here I am. I’m so thankful for everyone I have worked with so far on this journey.”

In addition to her co-workers she gave a shout out to her dad, Rob Rehm, for mowing her grass. She relaxes by watching her favorite Netflix shows and cuddling with her four rescue dogs, Hazel, Honey, Leia, and MooCow.

“I know patients are scared. They look to us for reassurance that everything will be ok and we will get through this. Their family members are scared. They are trusting us with their loved ones. It means a lot,” said Rehm. “Working on the frontlines has been an honor.”

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