Suzy Linville, RN, BSN, CCRN, came to the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center fresh out of nursing school to take a position in the high-stress environment of the Surgical Intensive Care Unit (SICU).
In some ways, it was a sink-or-swim situation.
After 20 years on the job, her supervisors and peers acknowledge Suzy as a world-class swimmer, one they rely on to impart her knowledge to nurses new and old.
"Suzy has precepted countless nurses, giving them a strong foundation as they begin their own journey as critical care nurses," says Kendra Stephens, a staff nurse who works with Linville. "She teaches with enthusiasm and humor in a way only she can.
"I even find myself, a nurse with 13 years of experience, listening to what she has to say as she teaches new staff about important topics."
Tell us a little about yourself.
I went to school at West Virginia University for my bachelor's in nursing science. I am a Mountaineer at heart always, but a transplanted Buckeye. I started at the medical center in the SICU as a new graduate at 22 years old.
Where are you from originally and what led you to Ohio State?
My husband and I grew up in West Virginia and we both went to WVU. His degree and job is what led us to Columbus. When I graduated, I applied to all the Columbus-area hospitals and Ohio State was the only place that called me back immediately, so this is where I landed.
What drew you to nursing?
I am the second child of four, so I have always been the caregiver in my large family. And my mom is a social worker, so I definitely have the need to help others in me. I also love the science of the human body. I thought nursing married those qualities well.
Where do you work and what type of patients do you work with?
I have worked in the SICU my whole career thus far. We care for trauma, general and specialty surgery and burn patients who require intensive care.
You've mentored lots of new nurses over the years. What's the most important thing you pass along to them, the best advice?
I really enjoy precepting new nurses into our unit, especially new graduates.
In the ICU, there are a lot of technical nursing skills that need to be taught, but it's also important to learn how to care for patients and families that are in a crisis situation in their lives, either from unplanned surgery or trauma.
I try to teach my preceptees not only the skills to be a great nurse, but the empathy and compassion that is essential in an ICU. I think if you treat the patients and their families how you would like your family to be treated, you win their trust.
How have you built relationships with patients and other providers?
I have always had an outgoing personality and I like to put people at ease. I use humor to do that. When people let their guard down and start to trust you, you are able to see what they really need.
I think most people just want to be valued and appreciated as individuals and I think I am able to see uniqueness in everyone.
Your colleagues praise your personalized care and communication skills. How have you honed these and how can others learn from your experience?
The ICU is a busy, ever-changing environment. You must be able to adapt to change very quickly to be a successful ICU nurse. I have learned over the years to roll with the punches, to rely on my team to help get through the challenging times and I try to never lose focus of the patient that is lying in the bed.
What else should we know about you?
I am a positive person! I don't know if it is from working in an ICU for 20 years that helps me appreciate that life is precious and short. You must always appreciate the blessings in your life because they can change in the blink of an eye. I try to make positivity my mantra and it makes me a happy person because of it.
I have been married for almost 20 years and I have two boys ages 14 and 12.
Thank you, Suzy, for Improving People's Lives!