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Meet Charles

by Admin 20. November 2012

 (RN Charles Dugan on one of his many travels.)

 

These days I call Fort Lauderdale home. I spent three years working in New York City as a new graduate nurse before coming back to the land of sun and surf.  I grew up in Aurora, Colorado, which is a suburb of Denver.  After high school I started college for chemical engineering, but after two years discovered it wasn't for me. I joined the Navy the summer of 1994.  It was kind of serendipitous as it was my break into healthcare and emergency medicine. During my one tour in San Diego I worked as a paramedic, which continued after my honorable discharge.  Due to a national paramedic shortage, I was able to travel across the country for contract positions. 

Nursing was an obvious "next step" in my career after 14 years as a paramedic, although I toyed with the idea of going on to medical school. I found, though, that doctors dealt less with the actual patient experience than nurses, focusing more on research and disease process. I enjoy the interpersonal interaction of nursing, not to mention the multitude of opportunities for growth and experience it affords to me.

Flight nursing has been an interest of mine going back to my Navy days.  Currently I am a board certified emergency nurse, trauma instructor, and pediatric emergency nurse instructor.  Between flights I continue to work on my Masters in Nursing (with a focus on nursing education) and preparation to sit for the certified flight nurse boards.  My passion, ambition, and "street" experience  have  prepared me for my work with Commercial Medical Escorts.  While the details are planned out by our fantastic staff, there is always the chance for last minute changes in patient conditions, family situations, and travel arrangements. It's not uncommon to "go McGyver" when this happens on a trip, adapting and overcoming the most unexpected event.

 Travel tips: pack lightly and really try to do a little homework about the weather before traveling.  Of the places I've been fortunate enough to see so far, I'd rank Florence, Italy as my favorite for historical value, but Barcelona, Spain as one of the most enchanting cities.  Both are surrounded by mountains and have rich architecture.

The best part of the job for me is getting to spend some quality time with the patient, and if possible, their companions. I have the chance to get the "back story" of what happened to cause their medical need, learn more about them individually, educate them regarding their medical condition,  and really cater my nursing care to meet any unique needs. Traveling internationally has given     me a new perspective and appreciation of different cultures, and I'm a better clinician because of this. 

Typically my trips have lasted three to four days. The first day I spend traveling to my destination and preparing my paperwork. If I get the chance, I try to establish a rapport with someone at the sending facility and get the most current medical information available.  Lastly, I try to make patient contact on the phone before arriving. I've found so many of my patients appreciate hearing my voice, not to mention it gives them a sense "something" is happening.  Communication is key, as is honesty about the process. I let each of the patients, and any respective companions, know we plan for the best, but are prepared for the worst. In other words, there may be a "hiccup" or two during the trip, but everything done is for the patient's safety, comfort, and care.  Travel days can be short or long, and they can involve a small amount or a good deal of care. It all really boils down to doing a thorough pre-flight assessment.  And, if all else fails, the CME team is ready to help in a pinch, day or night.


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