Dignity, Respect Run in This Nurse’s Family

Not a day goes by that we at CHOC Children’s don’t consider the great impact of nurses – but this week, Nurses Week,  presents us with a formal occasion to celebrate our nursing staff.

In today’s blog post, we hear how Julia Afrasiabi, an Emergency Department charge nurse, is making futures bright for the children of Orange County, and her personal connection to nursing.

When it comes to Julia Afrasiabi’s bedside manner, the charge nurse in the Julia and George Argyros Emergency Department at CHOC Children’s Hospital takes a cue from mom.

“My mom’s a pediatric hospice nurse,” Julia says. “Her big things are dignity and respect – she always taught me that.”

Though a hospice nurse – who works to ensure children with terminal illnesses live their final days comfortable and surrounded by love – performs different duties than an Emergency Department (ED) nurse, Julia draws constant inspiration from her mother.

“I see my mom’s compassion for parents of dying children, so I ask myself how I could not give the same compassion to parents of children I see,” Julia says.

Julia didn’t always want to follow in her mother’s nursing footsteps; at first, she dreamed of being an interior decorator.

After deciding to be a nurse, her pediatrics specialty was hard-earned. As a nursing student, Julia experienced a personal loss of a child in her life. The painful event left Julia unsure if she could work in a setting where the death of a child was a possibility.

But once again, her mother had good advice. “She told me that personal experiences make you better,” Julia says.

And Julia’s next rotation at school sealed the deal: pediatrics.

“I loved that children were so bright,” she recalls. “Even during the worst of situations, they are happy. I love that.”

When Julia’s mother visits CHOC, the duo will meet for lunch, where there is no shortage of conversation fodder.

“There’s an interesting juxtaposition between our jobs,” Julia says. “The ED is about saving and prolonging life; my mom’s job is about the end of life. It leads to some interesting philosophical discussions.”

Unfortunately, tragedy can make Julia’s work more closely resemble her mother’s. During those difficult times especially, she channels mom.

“In the ED, I can bring healing hands,” Julia says. “But when we can’t heal, my presence can be a calming and peaceful time in a patient’s life.”

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