CHOC Nurse Shares What Inspires Her Most

In honor of National Nurses Week, we’ve been highlighting some of our amazing CHOC Children’s nurses and why they’re so dedicated to our patients and families! We sat down with Becky Jenny, a charge nurse in CHOC’s Specialty Clinics, who shared some of her experiences.

Becky Jenny, RN
Becky Jenny, RN

What inspired you to become a nurse?

Becky: At a young age I learned how to care for a family member very close to me with a chronic illness. Throughout my childhood and adult life I have always loved to give a “helping hand” to sick family members, friends, pets, etc.

What motivates you as a nurse?

Becky: I love going to bed at night feeling like I made a difference in at least one child’s life every day I work.

Do you have a favorite CHOC memory or milestone you’d like to share?

Becky: A teenage patient in one of our clinics had a very difficult central line catheter to access. As a result, it gave the patient anxiety every time it needed to be accessed. It took me some time to gain the trust but I was allowed to access the port.  The patient now requests me when they are admitted to the hospital and comes to visit me on their monthly visit. Gaining that trust and encouraging our patients that it doesn’t always have to be a negative experience, are the best memories I have.

In light of CHOC’s new campaign, the Future’s Bright, how are you ensuring that Orange County’s kids’ futures are brighter?

Becky:  Working in the outpatient specialty clinics we follow many kids when they are not in the hospital. I help to make their futures brighter by doing everything I can do outpatient to avoid an inpatient visit. Allowing the kids to go to school, play with their friends, and stay home with their families, sleeping in their own bed contributes to a brighter future.

Thank you, Becky, and all of our CHOC nurses, for your unwavering commitment and compassion for the patients and families we are privileged to serve!

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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.”

 Related posts:

  • CHOC Nurse Shares What Inspires Her Most
    In honor of National Nurses Week, we’ve been highlighting some of our amazing CHOC Children’s nurses and why they’re so dedicated to our patients and families! We sat down with ...
  • A Mother’s Perspective
    In recognition of Nurses Week and Mother’s Day next week, we’d like to share the compelling story of one of our dedicated nurses, Rebecca Pak, an RN in the Endocrinology ...
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    In honor of National Nurses Week, and the remarkable dedication and care that CHOC nurses provide to our patients and families every day, we’d like to share this narrative by ...

A Mother’s Perspective

Rebecca Pak, RN
Rebecca Pak, RN

In recognition of Nurses Week and Mother’s Day next week, we’d like to share the compelling story of one of our dedicated nurses, Rebecca Pak, an RN in the Endocrinology Clinic at CHOC Children’s , and how her daughter’s rare condition gave her a new perspective as a nurse, and as a mommy.

The day is crystal clear in my mind. I met my baby girl, who came to me from South Korea, and knew my life was going to be full of joy and happiness. I also knew that there would be many unknowns and many challenges with an adopted child. What I didn’t know was that this precious baby would change my career and perspective on nursing forever.

She arrived to me as a healthy 8-month-old baby. She was happy and immediately bonded to our entire family. When she reached her first birthday, I began to notice subtle things in her physical development. After working a long night shift, in May of 2010, I came home and began to get my baby changed and ready for the day. When I was getting her dressed, I noticed her breasts looked bigger than normal. I told myself “it is probably just baby fat.”  My 11 years of neonatal intensive care nursing didn’t prepare me for what was about to come.

In June 2010, I noticed my daughter’s left breast increasing in size, as well as other abnormal changes for her age. Immediately I took her to the pediatrician. She ordered labs, an X-ray of her hand to determine her bone age, and referred us to pediatric endocrinology. Her lab results were normal but her bone age was advanced, and I felt like I couldn’t see the endocrinologist quickly enough. I was filled with fear and anxiety. My entire nursing career had been focused on neonatal intensive care. You could ask me anything related to prematurity, sepsis in the newborn and high risk deliveries and I could respond…yet I knew nothing about endocrinology.

She finally had her first appointment with endocrinology, and a Leuprolide stimulation test pointed to a diagnosis of Central Precocious Puberty, a condition where the puberty process starts way too soon.  Again the feelings of anxiety, sadness, and fear for the unknown crept into my mind. Why and how could this be happening to her?

Rebecca's precious daughter, Hana, with Dr. David Gibbs, CHOC Children's Specialists Division Chief of Surgery. Hana was the first patient to have surgery in the new OR in the Bill Holmes Tower.
Rebecca’s precious daughter, Hana, with Dr. David Gibbs, CHOC Children’s Specialists Division Chief of Surgery. Hana was the first patient to have surgery in the new OR in the Bill Holmes Tower.

We started Lupron injections every 28 days to suppress her puberty. It was hard to see my daughter go through the pain of injections and endure the negative side effects, which eventually lead to the decision to place a Supprelin implant. As I began to educate myself on this condition, I became fascinated with pediatric endocrinology. Suddenly, I had the aspiration to one day perform stimulation testing and provide treatment for endocrine conditions. I wanted to help the families and children who were going through what my daughter was going through.

Serendipitously at one her appointments, I learned my daughter’s endocrinology nurse was retiring. Without delay, I applied for the position. I knew I had a lot to learn and was hoping I would be given an opportunity to use my empathy as a mom and my skills to manage very detailed needs in order to provide the most outstanding endocrine care to patients.

Almost two years later, I now work full time as an endocrinology nurse at CHOC where my daughter is treated. I have compassion for every family that walks into our clinic. I love performing the Leuprolide stimulation tests most of all, because I get to share my daughter’s story. Immediately the parents are at ease knowing I went through this same thing when my daughter was only 18 months old.

And, I continue to strive to further my knowledge within endocrinology; after all this has become my life. I have come to realize that actually living the experience has created an empathy unsurpassed; this is what has molded me to become the endocrinology nurse that I am today. I treat every patient who walks into the Endocrinology Clinic at CHOC as if he or she were my own child. I provide a personable experience that all families will never forget…..after all, I am one of those families.

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