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Parkland's trauma nurse clinician program was nation's first;

Members of the trauma team in the Rees-Jones Trauma Center at Parkland care for a patient

Since the mid-1980s, Parkland Health has been at the forefront of trauma care. Among the innovations the health system pioneered in trauma care has been the implementation of the trauma nurse clinician program which focuses on patient care coordination from the time they arrive in the trauma center until hospital discharge. Today, more than 77 trauma centers across the country and around the globe model Parkland’s Trauma Nurse Clinician Program.

Celebrating their 30th anniversary, Parkland’s trauma nurse clinicians provide trauma performance improvement, registry management, injury prevention and outreach, in addition to patient care oversight, managing approximately 12,500 patients annually.

The role and responsibility of the trauma nurse has continued to grow since Parkland completed its first American College of Surgeons Level I Trauma Center verification survey in November 1987. In the three decades since it began, the trauma nurse clinician program has grown to 38 nurses providing 24/7 care in the Rees-Jones Trauma Center at Parkland.

“The trauma nurse clinicians provide care to the most critically injured patients including resuscitation and stabilization. Once stabilized, if the patient is admitted, they function in a unique role, following the care throughout the hospitalization,” said Kristie Brown, DNP, APRN, who previously served as a trauma nurse clinician and is now Director of Trauma. “The trauma nurse clinicians are advocates for the patients and their families and liaison between the multidisciplinary teams that care for those with trauma-related injuries.”

While the trauma team stands ready to care for injured patients, one of the most effective treatment options for trauma is to prevent injury or death from ever occurring, according to Courtney Edwards, DNP, MPH, RN, Director of Trauma Community Outreach and BioTel EMS.

“The Rees-Jones Trauma Center utilizes the ‘Spectrum of Prevention’ as a framework for its injury prevention initiatives. Trauma nurse clinicians are expected to participate in injury prevention and outreach education and partner with organizations and agencies to ensure that residents and visitors to north central Texas receive the best care possible,” Edwards, a former trauma nurse clinician, said. “But, even more importantly, have a safe place to live, work, learn and play.”

Della Johnson, RN, a trauma nurse service manager, has worked in trauma services since 2006.

“What I do makes a difference. We don’t care about what happened before the patient arrived here. We don’t care if you’re homeless or if you have the best insurance,” Johnson said. “What we care about is making sure that each of our patients receives high-quality care and that we get them on the road to recovery.”

That road is often long, but Johnson said there are rewards when the destination is reached.

“We had one patient who was critically injured in a car crash. The patient wasn’t wearing their seatbelt correctly and sustained some major injuries,” Johnson recalled, noting that she didn’t know if the patient would be able to walk again. “Members of the trauma team were with the patient every day until they were transferred to another facility.”

As a smile appears, Johnson shares some news. “We heard from that patient. They’re coming back to thank us for the care we provided. And they’ll be walking in to see us.”


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