In 1998, Selena Whalen began her employment with UofL Hospital in the Emergency Psych area. After two years, she moved to the Burn Unit, where she has been for 20 years.
In her current role as a burn nurse, Selena’s typical day includes managing the unit, dressing changes and, due to the devastating nature of burn injuries, educating and counseling the families of caregivers.
“There’s a LOT of teamwork on this unit. We have physical, occupational and speech therapists, dietitians and physicians all working together and learning from each other. We collaborate for the benefit of the patient, and we plan our day and coordinate our schedules so that we can minimize the disruption and discomfort to our patients.”
“Working with burn patients can be more difficult than other types of patients,” says Selena. “Depending on the degrees and stages of the burns, our patients can be fine and then turn sick suddenly.”
When asked about the most challenging and rewarding aspects of her job, Selena shared, “The most challenging and difficult part of this job is getting attached to patient and then they do not survive their injuries. You wonder if there is anything that you could have done differently. A burn patient is usually in the hospital for an extended period of time. We even had one patient who was here for about a year. You get close to them and their families. On the same note, the most rewarding is easy. It’s seeing the difference you make in people’s lives, when they come back to say thank you. Our patients become family.” Selena continued, “I’m just saying from the heart what happens here every day.”
Another part of the job that Selena enjoys is outreach and education. “There’s so much people don’t know and it’s unfortunate when we see a patient whose injuries could have easily been prevented.”
We asked Selena why she loves working at UofL Hospital and her answer is one we’ve heard many times before, “I like the diversity of the patients, working with the physicians and her team members, and the atmosphere of being here. You get to see it all and learn. There is nothing like the U.”
National burn awareness week is observed the first full week in February, and was created to enable fire and burn educators to share awareness and prevention messages in our communities. Learn more.