Linda Block is an experienced nurse. For 30 years she worked at a local hospital, serving in a multitude of nursing roles from pediatrics and mother/baby to cardiology and orthopedics. A little over a year ago, she decided it was time for a change. She joined Oaklawn as a residential nurse at the Mishawaka campus, which provides intensive services to youth ages 12-18.
“It was totally outside my comfort zone, but it has become one of the most enjoyable nursing jobs I’ve had in my career.”
“I had never worked psych and I had never worked residential,” she said. “But I prayed about it and felt like I was supposed to work with youth. It was totally outside my comfort zone, but it has become one of the most enjoyable nursing jobs I’ve had in my career.”
Her typical day includes safe distribution of medications to the youth, assessing physical complaints or injuries and ensuring youth receive needed care, whether that’s with an on-site physician or an outside specialist. Building relationships with the youth is key to performing those duties well; it’s also one of the most enjoyable aspects of the job.
“You’re with kids that need you and benefit from having a therapeutic relationship,” she said. “They have been through things most people can’t even imagine: trauma, abuse, born into circumstances beyond their control. A lot of them haven’t been able to trust adults. When you get that relationship with them where they trust you, there’s nothing like it.”
In addition to building relationships with the youth, Linda says she enjoys the relationships among colleagues. Every person on the treatment team, doctors included, take a collaborative approach to care. And a bonus: She gets to wear street clothes.
The job comes with its challenges, too. It’s difficult to see youth struggle to control their anger or resort to negative behavior, but she says those incidents decrease as youth progress through treatment.
“To see these kids who have been through so much have a chance to heal, to get individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy, to work on coping skills,” Block said, “The difference in these kids from when they come into when they discharge – it’s night and day.”