Irvine nurse honored as Hero with Heart
Nicole Bryant

Nicole Bryant, a registered nurse at Hoag Hospital Irvine, was awarded the Hero with Heart Award by the Trauma Intervention Program – a nonprofit organization in which volunteers respond to traumatic incidents to assist victims – for her continuing compassion and kindness on the job. The Irvine World News caught up with Bryant to ask her about the award and her job as a nurse.

Q. After seeing people in the most difficult of situations, how do you balance that stress with your personal life?

A.There are times when I take my work home with me. We had a critical child not too long ago, and I cried the whole way home. When I got home, I held my kids a little closer and then settled in watching TV with them.

You are always going to have certain patients that will stay with you, but in order to function at home and at work you have to be able to separate your emotions.

I try to be in the moment and present when I'm home. I think because of everything I see at work I also feel incredibly grateful for my family.

Q. Did you always aspire to be a nurse or to work in medicine?

A.I always knew I wanted to do something in medicine, but I really didn't know what. I fell into a nursing program simply because the program finished at the same time my husband was graduating. It seemed like the timing was great, and I knew that nursing would open a lot of doors.

I realize now how fortunate I am for my career. I love being a nurse. I love helping people, and I love the emergency department.

Q. What was your first shift in an emergency room like?

A.My first job working as a nurse was at a small community emergency department called Baylor Richardson in Richardson, Texas. That first department reminds me a lot of Hoag Irvine.

I remember in those first few minutes of my first shift feeling like I hadn't learned anything in nursing school. I felt very overwhelmed and wondered why no one was looking over my shoulder to double-check me anymore.

I also remember feeling so fortunate and lucky to get paid for helping people and getting to play a significant role in their lives.

Q. What are some of the greatest challenges facing you each day in the emergency department?

A.I help people on the worst days of their lives. They will remember everything I say to them and everything we do. I treat everyone the way I would treat my own family and choose my actions and words carefully.

The psychiatric patient population is incredibly underserved. Unfortunately, many end up in the emergency department because they don't have any other options.

I always wish there was more I could do.

Q.Do you have a favorite hospital television show?

A.I know it sounds super cliché, but I grew up watching every episode of “ER.” It seemed exciting and action-packed. When I worked at Harbor UCLA I definitely had some television-worthy shifts. I can't watch it anymore because I feel like they get things all wrong. I find myself looking at the IV the nurse put in instead of paying attention to the story line.

To view the original Orange County Register​ article, please click here​