Black History Month is a time to celebrate and highlight Black Americans, including many incredible employees who make an impact on our patients, families and organization overall. Sheila Castle, R.N., is clinical supervisor of the Vascular Access Team, the group of nurses who start intravenous (IV) lines and place central lines (catheters) into blood vessels. She joined the hospital in 2005 and is a past recipient of the Johns Hopkins Patient Safety Star Award and a frequent Daisy Award nominee. Sheila answers a few questions about working at All Children’s and what Black History Month means to her.
What is your favorite thing about working at the hospital?
Interacting with the children is what I like best. Because I start IVs, or “give ouchies” as we say, no one likes to see me come into their room. But I make it a point to let each child know that I hear their objections, explain why I have to give an ouchie and attempt to make friends again by the end.
Tell us about a typical day.
Vascular Access varies day by day. A typical day starts with disinfecting my work station, stocking my IV cart and reviewing the task list for the day.
We travel from floor to floor troubleshooting and inserting IVs and central lines. We cover all areas of the hospital and the Outpatient Care Center. Some days, you hit all of them —Emergency Center and Radiology; Pre-Op, Recovery and sometimes the OR; the intensive care units and other inpatient areas; the Infusion Center, dialysis unit and the hematology-oncology clinic — wherever they need us. Sometimes you encounter the smallest kid who turns out to be stronger than the biggest kid you’ve seen that day. You face emotion from all sides — the patient, the family, the nurse — and you do what you can to make that moment in time just a little bit better.
This year's Black History Month theme is The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity. What does embracing representation, identity and diversity of Black people look like to you?
I love to see a kid’s face when I tell him or her that I’m a nurse and that I take my job of helping people get better very seriously. It’s important to me for Black patients to see someone who looks like them in a clinical role. I take that opening to encourage them to reach for their dreams: make a plan, set goals, look for and use resources available to them, and use their voice. “If you don’t know, ask someone” is a frequent phrase that I use. You never know who just might have the answer that you’re looking for or can direct you in the right direction.
Name a Black American you admire or think people should learn more about?
This question is a hard one because I can’t just pinpoint one. My answer is any Black American. When my kids were in school and Black History Month rolled around, there was always a project around the more common Black Americans, such as Parks, King, Tubman and Marshall. Because I wanted my kids to learn more about great Black people, I would have them pick a person from our Great African Americans book that they didn’t know much about (with teacher permission). There are SO many Black Americans that I didn’t know about or get taught about until I was in college, and who don’t get the recognition they deserve. This was just my contribution to teach my kids about their Black history and the unlimited opportunities that they can strive for.